Over the past three seasons, there are three regular season games that stand out amongst the rest. One from each season. In the 2011-2012 season, in which the Kentucky Wildcats won their eight national championship, it was the North Carolina game that was the turning point in the season. That game was won by a score of 73-72. In the 2012-2013 season, which was highlighted (lowlighted?) by chemistry issues and lack of discipline, it was the Florida game that marked the high point of the season. That game was won at Rupp by a score of 61-57. This season, the young Kentucky Wildcats have struggled to win the big game. They were 0-3 against ranked opponents. That is, until Louisville last evening. They won that game by a score of 73-66. These three wins over the last three season all of a few things in common.
The first commonality is the close score. Each game was a tough, physical game. There were a ton of lead changes and hard earned baskets. Each team came in expecting to win and neither team would back down. The end result backs up these statements, as none of the three games were won by more than seven points. the average margin or victory was only four points. Two possessions. That was all the difference in the games above. However, why is it that in all of these games, Kentucky came out with the win? The answer is simple, really. Home court advantage. The crowds in each of the above games were electric. The fans were standing the majority of the game, silence was at a premium due to the intensity of the noise, and the team fed off the energy provided by the fans. When the crowd in Rupp Arena gets behind their team like they did in these three games, they are unstoppable. There isn’t a louder or more intense environment in sports in this case
So, for the people that have ever asked whether having home court is actually an advantage, I say to yes. The fans in the arena have the ability to get behind their team and practically will them to a victory. It is a sight that has to be witnessed. One that is almost impossible to believe without seeing it in person. Every sports fan out there should have a big game in Rupp Arena on their bucket list. It’s a must see. A privilege and a rite of passage. It is a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. The only gripe is that it takes a big game to bring out the beast. If it could somehow be brought out game in and game out, the opposition wouldn’t stand a chance. It’s Rupp Arena, folks. And it’s one of a kind!