Kentucky fans made a strong and vocal appearance when UK visited U of L two seasons ago.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – You didn't need binoculars to find the University of Kentucky fans at the KFC Yum! Center when John Calipari brought his team to town to play the University of Louisville two seasons ago.
They were in the front row and in the back rows – from the best seats in section 106 to the worst ones in section 329. Rick Pitino's U of L players saw them, heard them and groused about them, especially after their presence in the lower bowl multiplied in the second half as the Cardinals flat-lined in a jarring 78-63 defeat.
"They infiltrate our arena," Pitino said. "We don't infiltrate their arena. If a Kentucky fan gives their ticket away to a Louisville fan, they feel, whether they are Catholic, Christian, Jewish, that they go to hell.
"It's different. Our people don't feel they go to hell if they give their ticket to Big Blue Nation ... It really upset our A.D. (Tom Jurich). It really bothered him. It didn't bother me because they get in everywhere."
It was one of those vintage turnout and then turn up the volume performances that used to leave Hugh Durham, Wimp Sanderson, Sonny Smith and other coaches howling in the Southeastern Conference after UK fans took charge in their home gyms. At one SEC school, administrators once purchased blocks of lower arena tickets to keep Kentucky fans out of prime locations.
So today's question is not about the defensive game plan that Calipari will design for Peyton Siva? Today's question is:
Did the U of L administration hear the complaining by several players and change their ticket distribution game plan to try to keep UK fans out of the prime seats for the Wildcats' return visit to the Cards' home facility Saturday afternoon?
"No," said Brad Barber, U of L's assistant athletic director for tickets and administration.
"Our philosophy is that our fans make their donations and purchase their tickets. They can use them as they choose. We hope they use their tickets to come out and cheer for Louisville or give them to friends that will. But we haven't made any calls or sent any messages about how to use their tickets."
In other words, Kentucky fans are primed to prove – again – that they are as talented at getting into opposing arenas as Calipari's teams are at winning games – and Calipari's teams have won nearly 87 percent of their games at UK.
Memorial Gymnasium at Vanderbilt. Assembly Hall at Indiana. The Smith Center in Chapel Hill. Carnegie Hall. The Oval Office. Kentucky fans get in, get noticed and get recognized in ways that separate their commitment from the passion you see from other schools.
U of L's move from Freedom Hall to the new facility resulted in a change in the control of the best seats – and UK fans cashed in on that change two years ago.
One thing that could reduce their numbers this year is the sense that Louisville is primed to end Kentucky's four-game winning streak in the series because even thought the game will register as Louisville's first official sellout this season, plenty of tickets are available on ticket-brokering web sites such as www.stubhub.com or www.ticketliquidator.com.
As of 8 a.m. StubHub listed links for 67 tickets, with prices that started $189 and jumped to $1,025. Barber said that face value for UK-U of L tickets is $40. The range for the 46 seats on TicketLiquidator was $159 to $1,179
"That sounds about right," Barber said.
Most of the seats are available in the upper arena. But if you want to sit in prime real estate where you will be noticed and heard, you have that option. As of Friday morning, seats were available in seven different sections in the lower bowls – in many of the locations where Kentucky fans enjoyed the game two seasons ago.