Victorious Kentucky returns home to adoring fans

By Bruce Schreiner

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 3:53 p.m. MDT

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Another championship banner has been unfurled at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky's basketball team returned home to its adoring fans Tuesday, after defeating Kansas 67-59 Monday night to win the school's eighth NCAA championship.

Blue-clad fans erupted into deafening cheers as the team pulled into the packed arena aboard a sleek blue bus emblazoned with "national champions."

It was a joyous curtain call for a team led by an immensely talented group of freshmen and sophomores. The NBA likely beckons next for many of them.

Each team member was introduced to loud ovations as players and coaches took the stage in the middle of the arena. Senior Darius Miller, a basketball net draped around his neck, toted the NCAA championship trophy to a table. Coach John Calipari pumped his fist and raised his arms in triumph as he basked in the cheers.

"You know why we won the national title? Folks, we have the best players and we have the best team," he said as the crowd erupted.

Calipari reminded the crowd that his goal three seasons ago when he took the Kentucky coaching job was to once again make the Wildcats the "gold standard" in college basketball and to raise more championship banners.

Then on cue, the 2012 title banner slowly unfurled from the rafters at Rupp as the Kentucky pep band played and fans cheered.

Calipari thanked the fans and said there were about 5,000 that welcomed the team at the airport and more lined the roads between the airport and Rupp Arena.

"You people never cease to amaze me," he told the crowd.

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