Situated in the middle of downtown Lexington, the aptly-named Lexington Center is the home of Rupp Arena, where the Wildcats have posted an unbelievable 426-56 record since 1976. With recent developments, the current capacity of Rupp is 23,500.
Fans begin packing into the downtown area several hours before tip-off, often grabbing a nice cocktail at the Big Blue Martini, or catching a delicious dinner at DeSha's. The excitement is palpable long before the buses of the opposing ball club arrive.
You must plan ahead if you hope to watch a game within Rupp, as tickets to Kentucky home games are hard to come by (season tickets sell out within 15 minutes on the market). Usually, the only chance to find a seat is by contacting a friend of a friend, who has an uncle with court-side tickets.
As an undergraduate, the best way to view the action is by gaining admission to the court-side, standing-room-only student section (nicknamed the "eRUPPtion Zone"). Though the cost is a marginal $5, students must wait in line for hours to pack Memorial Coliseum (UK's previous gym) and hope that their section gets selected via lottery for the chance to purchase two tickets per person.
Pregame begins as the University of Kentucky Pep Band—the largest in the nation with over 100 members—files in, encapsulates the court, and passionately leads the audience in the one of the most recognizable fight songs, "On, On, U of K."
Soon after, they are joined by the 17-time UCA National Champion UK Cheerleading squad to help rally the home crowd even more.
The opposing team then comes onto the floor for their warm-up, often to deafening boos and taunts. The lights suddenly drop low, as the announcer begins to introduce "YOUR KENTUCKY WILDCATS," drawing huge cheers from the home audience. Fireworks fill the cavernous Rupp Arena, welcoming in the Pride of the Bluegrass.
At halftime, it is common for the achievements of alumni to be honored at mid-court. Some former guests include NBA Champions Tayshaun Prince, Nazr Mohammed, Antoine Walker, and Rajon Rondo. Coaches Pat Riley, Kyle Macy, John Pelphrey, Walter McCarty, and Sean Woods were also members of the UK Basketball legacy.
In addition, Kentucky also lists seven governors, two Nobel Prize winners, US Senators and Representatives, and several award-winning musicians and artists in its history. And as Pat Forde has pointed out ad nauseum—yes, Ashley Judd is a very proud Big Blue alum!