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March 29, 2012NEW ORLEANS - The action happened Monday in Georgetown, Ky., but by Thursday, the story was all the rage at the Superdome.
Chances are you've heard by now about the altercation between a Kentucky and a Louisville fan at a dialysis clinic in Georgetown got into an altercation. Words were exchanged, and the UK fan flipped the bird at his Cardinals counterpart, who punched the Wildcat fan in the face.
It's become the signature example of the rivalry's intensity as the Cats and Cards prepare to meet Saturday at the Superdome in the NCAA Final Four, and though the teams involved don't condone that sort of behavior from their fans, they aren't surprised by it.
"There's nothing that you could say that would really surprise me as far as Kentucky and Louisville fans," UK senior Darius Miller said. "I know it's a heated rivalry, especially me being from the state. But I actually hadn't heard that. That is pretty crazy."
Just how popular the story is among Saturday's participants is open to some debate. Miller and teammate Terrence Jones said Thursday that they hadn't heard it, but UK point guard Marquis Teague said coach John Calipari shared it with the team this week.
"He told us a few days ago?," Teague said. "He was like, 'See how crazy this rivalry is here?'"
When asked about the incident on Thursday, Calipari pretended not to have heard the story.
"The Louisville fan punched out the Kentucky fan?" he said, drawing a laugh from a group of reporters when he added, "I'm disappointed about that."
Louisville coach Rick Pitino got similar laughs when he asked reporters "Did we win the fight?"
Though the Cats and Cards have a fierce rivalry, the participants don't condone violence among fans.
"First of all, I would say, 'Both of y'all are here for kidneys. What are you fighting for?'" U of L forward Chane Behanan said when asked what he'd tell the fans involved. "Then I'd tell the Louisville dude, 'Just calm down, man. We're going to leave everything on the court.' Just tell him to chill out."
But Jones said neither fan could be blamed, regardless of who threw the first punch.
"I think somebody should have been watching them," Jones said. "I'm blaming whoever was working. It's their fault."
In more important medical news, UK forward Anthony Davis said his injured left knee will be "fine" when the Cats and Cards meet on Saturday, but admitted he's sat out parts of practice this week.
Davis, who injured the knee in a collision with Baylor's Perry Jones III during Sunday's South Regional Final win, said the knee was "like 90 percent" healthy.
"It'll be fine," he said. "Just keep icing it, keep getting treatment."
Pitino: 'No animosity' toward Cal
Pitino was asked Thursday - as he often is - about the nature of his relationship with Calipari, and the Louisville coach raised some eyebrows by insisting that there's "really no animosity" between the two.
Calipari and Pitino are thought to have had a falling out over the course of their careers, and their rivalry is an intriguing subplot to the current Kentucky-Louisville series.
But Pitino downplayed that angle, saying he and Calipari have the "same relationship that I have with Thad (Matta) and I have with Bill Self," the other two coaches at the Final Four.
"We're cordial," Pitino said. "If we were at the Marriott in Las Vegas and we're recruiting, we'd have lunch together or a beer together, and that's our relationship."
Pitino noted that he's known Calipari since the UK coach was a 17-year-old camper at Five-Star Camp and that he was on the committee that selected Calipari as the head coach at Massachusetts.
The two never had a competitive relationship, Pitino said, until Calipari went to Memphis in Conference USA, at the time Louisville's conference home. The competitive rivalry has been renewed at Kentucky and Louisville.
"We want to win," Pitino said. "We want to beat each other out for recruits, and that's the truth. You can write whatever else you want to write, but that's the truth. The truth speaks for itself."
Davis laughs at himself
Friday is Unibrow Day at Bourbon 'n Toulouse, the Lexington restaurant that serves New Orleans-style cuisine. The promotion raises money for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Customers who donate $10 will receive a free meal and a pair of unibrow glasses.
Chances are, that wouldn't faze Davis.
The 6-foot-10 freshman continues to take references to his eyebrows in stride. On Thursday, he even credited opposing fans for giving him a chuckle.
"(On) the road there's some funny signs," Davis said. "We were at Florida and it was Bert or Ernie (from Sesame Street), one of them. It was funny. It was one (picture) of me and one of him. I was crying (from laughter). That's the best one I've seen all year."