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Coach 'disappointed' by fires, revelry as students celebrate Kentucky hoops win

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:22 AM EDT, Mon April 2, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Kentucky men's basketball team beat Louisville to advance to Monday's NCAA final
  • After the Saturday game, hundreds of fans flooded the streets of Lexington to celebrate
  • The school notes "criminal incidents"; police say couches and cars were lit on fire
  • The team's coach says its fans are passionate, but they "go overboard sometimes"

(CNN) -- Hours after raucous University of Kentucky students torched cars and couches after their men's basketball team advanced to the NCAA championship, the Wildcats' coach said that he understood fans' passion but was "disappointed" by some of their actions.

"The state of Kentucky is so connected to this program. It's the commonwealth's team," coach John Calipari told reporters Sunday. "They go overboard sometimes."

Top-seeded Kentucky wrapped up its 69-61 win over in-state rival Louisville on Saturday night, in the first of two semifinal games in the NCAA tourney widely known as March Madness. The victory spurred hundreds of Wildcat backers to exit bars, restaurants and residences in the school's hometown of Lexington and flood the streets, many of them raising their fists and screaming for joy.

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Members of the city police force watched the revelry, including celebrating students who partied around several cars and couches that had been lit on fire, said police Lt. Mark Brand.

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Video from the scene, from CNN affiliate WLEX, showed flames rising into the sky as fire trucks attempted to navigate through the crowd. At least one car could be seen overturned, and the University of Kentucky's Twitter feed noted reports of "several criminal incidents" and the temporary closure of a number of roads.

Brand, from the Lexington police, said that authorities weren't able to get the situation along one road, State Street, fully under control until nearly 1 a.m. -- some four hours after the Wildcats' game ended.

Some students were arrested, but police did not reveal the number. Brand did say that at least one person suffered a minor injury, a scraped knee.

Calipari defended Kentucky's fans during a press conference in New Orleans, where his team is preparing to face the University of Kansas in the finals on Monday night. The Wildcats, who entered the tourney as the nation's consensus No. 1 team, are favored going into the showdown, according to oddsmakers.

The coach said that, while they fervently support their team and might rejoice in its victories, Kentucky supporters would never show up an opponent.

"Our fans are the classiest," Calipari said, adding that they'd never "storm the court" as some do after a big win. "They're not vicious to the opponent. They're not that way."

CNN's Maggie Schneider contributed to this report.

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