Wildcats return to Lexington as jubilant fans celebrate season
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- An airplane carrying the Wildcats touched down Tuesday afternoon in Lexington. From there, a caravan of buses carried the team to Rupp Arena. And despite Monday night's loss to UConn in the NCAA Championship game, Big Blue NAtion was at Rupp Arena to celebrate a successful season.
In Lexington, you would never know the Cats lost last night. Fans say they have plenty to celebrate. Just one day following their loss to UConn, Kentucky fans packed Rupp Arena to welcome their team home.
"I'm so proud," said Macey Culber, a UK student. "Honestly, I doubted them at first, towards the beginning. I didn't think we'd make it this far."
"We're here because we want to see our Cats and give them a heads-up that we are here for them," said Devon Hunt, another fan.
Hundreds of people showed up for the homecoming. Fans say the Cats' support system is like a big family.
"There's not a lot of bandwagoning here, which is the coolest thing ever," said fan Darian Ditto. "Like, if you're going to bleed blue, you're going to bleed blue forever."
Hunt says he's most proud because a lot of people doubted the team early on.
"After South Carolina, I don't think anyone thought they would make it this far into the tournament," Hunt said.
UK fans say despite the loss, they'll stay faithful to their team and look forward to next season.
"They made it to the Championship game, and I know we're really big into basketball in Kentucky, but it's still an accomplishment in anyone's eyes, and I'm glad we could welcome them home either way," Culber said.
"I just love basketball in general, and if you're gonna root for somebody, you might as well root for somebody who's sold on tradition more than winning," Ditto said.
Monday night, the team of freshmen starters did what they've done all season...clawing their way back from 15-points down.
"We started climbing that mountain, this team together, and we slipped a couple of times," says Coach John Calipari. "These guys just kept climbing, and kept climbing, and kept climbing."
Calipari says despite the loss, his team has a lot to celebrate. "In the end, there were two of us at the top of the mountain, no one else made it up there."
The freshmen starters did their talking on the court all season, but Tuesday, it was one of the few seniors on the team who addressed BBN. "On behalf of all of us, thank you all fans, you're the best fans in the world," says UK Senior John Hood.
It's unknown if the freshmen or Calipari will be back next season, but fans made it clear how they feel.
And despite the loss, Big Blue Nation still gets another banner.
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