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Ky. fans celebrate win; dozens arrested swiftly
UK sophomore Cameron Chaney, 20, agreed. “It seems like they have more authorities tonight.”
Police had said they would be prepared following the mayhem that accompanied the Wildcats’ win over cross-state rival Louisville on Saturday night. Rowdy fans torched couches and turned over cars that night.
After Kentucky sealed its win Monday night in New Orleans, fans back home streamed out of bars to fill the intersection of Euclid and Woodland streets, some throwing beer cans into the air. Police in riot gear looked on but kept their distance at that corner.
Some revelers even stopped officers and asked to get photos taken with them and to shake hands. Officers happily obliged.
Students weren’t the only ones celebrating.
The revelers included Marie Allison, a 1968 UK graduate who was wearing a blue Final Four shirt. She recalled the last championship in 1998 and said, “This night is terrific. It’s even better than back then.”
Meanwhile, Kansas fans in downtown Lawrence took their team’s loss to Kentucky in stride Monday night as they poured onto Massachusetts Street amid random cries of “Rock Chalk Jayhawk,” with many proclaiming their pride in a team that wasn’t picked to finish in the top three in the Big 12 Conference.
Storekeepers said basketball fans _ students and older residents alike _ began crowding the entertainment strip of bars, restaurants and specialty shops near the Kansas campus, well before 5 p.m. in anticipation of the game against the heavily favored Wildcats.
“It’s OK, because look how far they made it,” Jobi Pierson, 51, from McLouth, about 20 minutes from Lawrence, said as the final seconds ticked away from Kansas’ national title hopes. “No matter what, they did well. I feel proud of them and I’m happy with what they’ve done.”
A heavy police presence _ one police officer estimated about 250, but told a reporter “that’s not enough” _ emerged at halftime and set up in groups of six along street corners to deter troublemakers. That included 70 Kansas Highway Patrol troopers brought in from across the state.
A mass of red and blue-clad basketball fans spilled into the street afterward, bringing traffic to a standstill.
In Kentucky, police earlier Monday had forcefully warned Wildcat fans that a repeat of the dangerous weekend celebrations around the Lexington campus wouldn’t be tolerated.
Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin said some revelers Saturday night acted in a “dangerous and criminal” way by setting fires, overturning cars and hurling bottles into the air. Police used pepper spray in small amounts for crowd control after thousands of rowdy fans swarmed into the streets.
Officers made more than 30 arrests near the UK campus Saturday night for arson, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, and authorities were expecting more arrests from that night’s revelry. Police showed the media photos of people in Saturday night’s crowds who have been targeted for arson and assault charges once they are identified. Bastin had said patrols would be beefed up for Monday’s game.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto also issued a warning Monday ahead of the game, saying the rowdy behavior detracted from the success of the players “who have worked tirelessly to represent UK at a national level.”
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