Kentucky fans transformed the KFC Yum! Center into "Rupp Arena West" for the early evening game against Western Kentucky. They changed the color scheme to blue and raised the decibel level. Coach John Calipari's squad responded with a convincing 81-66 victory – just like a No. 1 seed should.
Next up for Kentucky (33-2), the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, will be the winner of the late game between Connecticut and Iowa State. UConn defeated Kentucky in a national semifinal game in 2011 on the way to the third national championship in Huskies' history.
And Kentucky fans remember. They booed the UConn team when the Huskies entered the building to watch the first half of the Kentucky game.
Terrence Jones (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Doron Lamb (16 points) led the assault on the Hilltoppers, who had very little support in the arena. Jones and Lamb, who returned to Kentucky last year rather than turn pro, took the first step on their mission toward a national championship.
Kentucky trailed just once, early in the second half when T.J. Price (21 points) hit a three to give Western Kentucky (16-19) a 12-10 lead. The Wildcats scored the next eight points and never looked back. A 9-0 run extended Kentucky's lead to 32-19 and the Wildcats scored the final seven points of the first half to take a 45-26 lead at the break.
The Wildcats shot 61.5 percent in the first half, hitting 16 of 26 shots. Jones and Lamb both were 6 of 8 from the field with Jones scoring 15 and Lamb 14 points.
Freshman Anthony Davis, a candidate for national player of the year, contributed 16 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks for Kentucky.
Kentucky is pursuing its first championship since 1998.