Ky. fans celebrate win; dozens arrested swiftly

By Dylan Lovan

Associated Press

Published: Monday, April 2 2012 11:23 p.m. MDT

Kansas fans Andrew Murray, of Olathe, Kan., and his girlfriend Kasey Crostarosa watch a television broadcast of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game between Kansas and Kentucky, Monday, April 2, 2012, at Jefferson's Restaurant in Lawrence, Kan. Kentucky won 67-59.

The Lawrence Journal-World, Richard Gwin, Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Police reported that couches were set on fire and several dozen people were arrested near Kentucky's campus after the Wildcats defeated Kansas on Monday night to capture another NCAA title.

Fans filled the streets near the Lexington campus within minutes of the game's conclusion. They jumped up and down, screamed, sprayed beer and waved Kentucky flags.

Lexington police had arrested several dozen people by the time the game had been over only a few minutes, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said late Monday.

"We're seeing fires being lit and things of that nature," Roberts said, adding that people had set couches and at least one car on fire.

A car crashed into the patio area at a bar and grill where some people were dining, but the metal-and-brick wall kept the vehicle from getting onto the patio, she said. She didn't have information about injuries.

Police had also handed out numerous citations, many for alcohol-related offenses, Roberts said.

"I think that we're taking a more zero-tolerance approach," she said. "That has a part to play in it, but also people started celebrating much earlier than they did on Saturday. The amount of time to become intoxicated and the amount of time for us to be in contact with these intoxicated people has increased."

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 had 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 a national championship 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 sex 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.

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