Kentucky had to give everything it had in the 64-59 win, and the fans were there every step of the way.
The Big Blue Nation made up nearly all of the nearly 5,000 fans witnessing UK make the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season. Combined with a small, but vocal, contingent of Orange fans, band and cheer squad, it made for an entertaining atmosphere. There was a lot on the line on the court, and the fans answered.
"The crowd really responded two days in a row," UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We had an unbelievable environment so thank you to the fans."
It was the type of game that left you sitting on the edge of your seat. For the fans at Memorial Coliseum, most of them didn't bother using their seat at all in the last several minutes.
With each made basket, steal or defensive stop, the energy was there both on and off the court. It had an impact, on both sides.
"It's a great team, a bunch of athletes in a great environment for women's basketball," Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said of Kentucky and the Memorial Coliseum crowd. "It's unique for women's basketball, to come to a place like this and they bring a great crowd, a very respectful crowd, too. It's just a very good venue for women's basketball."
When Syracuse got within five in the second half, the Wildcats -- and the Big Blue Nation -- answered. When Syracuse cut UK's lead to two at 46-44, the Wildcats, and their fans, had an answer.
There was no giving up, and the Wildcats made it known, the fans had an impact.
"It helped being in our house where the fans were really helpful," Kastine Evans said of making shots down the stretch. "They made a lot of noise when we needed it. Especially when we made big plays.
The party continued well after the final buzzer. The team stuck around for several renditions of the fight song. Coach Mitchell pumped his fists to both sides of the blue-filled Coliseum stands. The players waved and showed their appreciation.
It was a fun night at Memorial Coliseum. Combined with Saturday's opening-round win, it was a fun weekend at the old arena. Whether it was at 11 a.m. Saturday or Monday evening, the noise was there.
Now, the Cats, and the ever-loyal Big Blue Nation, take the party to South Bend, Ind. The Wildcats will play either Cal or Baylor. No matter the color of the Bears, be it blue and gold or green and gold, it will be another tough test for UK.
Kentucky won't have the benefit of the home crowd, but knowing the Big Blue Nation, there will be a sizable number of fans cheering on the Wildcats on the road.