By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari took his players to see fans camped out at Texas Tech Friday night to make sure they could get in to see the Red Raiders host UK Saturday night.
He even worried a bit what the atmosphere might be like after Texas Tech gave free beer to students who attended a pep rally seven hours before the game started.
“It was a classy crowd,” Calipari said on his postgame radio show after UK’s overtime win. “We have seen some disgusting crowds where I didn’t want to bring my team back. They were like our fans.”
National college basketball analyst Jeff Goodman called it the “best atmosphere I’ve seen all season and it’s not even close” and it looked that way on TV.
Kentucky fan Steve Horton and his son both attended the game wearing their Kentucky gear and said fans around them were great.
“Cheered hard for their team but also complimented my son and I and after the game. Beer sales were strong but no bad behavior at all. Great atmosphere, especially to win and chant Go Big Blue in enemy territory,” Horton said.
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard obviously was disappointed to lose but said it was a ” big-time college basketball game”
“We played 20 minutes; they beat us by two. We play another 20 minutes we beat them by two. Then we play five minutes and they beat us with a couple of free throws,” Beard said. “I wish we could have played another five minutes, I felt like it was one of those games whoever had the ball last wins. We were in that situation and it just didn’t go our way tonight.”
Beard took Texas Tech to the 2019 Final Four. He thinks Kentucky could do the same this year. He said the Cats are definitely a Final Four team and a “national title contending type team.”