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October 18, 2013

Big Blue Madness action tips off Kentucky season

Wham City Lights. Camera. Action.

The Madness has arrived, and this year Kentucky is asking the fans to be a part of the show.

During Friday night's Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena, video screens will prompt fans to open the Wham City Lights app and join in a crowd-oriented stunt.

Madness just got a little insane. And besides the crowd being involved, no one else knows what to expect. Even the players.

"I asked some of the other players, 'Do we practice? Do we go out there a couple days before and see what we're going to do?'" freshman Julius Randle said. "They're like, 'No, it's pretty much a surprise for you too.' So I don't know what to expect. I've already seen how crazy these people are when they camped out and stuff. So I don't know what to expect."

This will be Big Blue Madness' ninth year at Rupp Arena, and there is some blueprint for what will happen. For example, the event starts at 7:30 p.m. ET., with doors opening at 6 p.m. ET.

In years past the cheerleaders have put on a show, the women's basketball team received an introduction and played in a scrimmage, and then the men's team follows suit.

What happens in between is anyone's guess, but expectations are high.

"I hear it's great," freshman Dakari Johnson said. "There's a lot of fans. There's a lot of people that come out to support. I hear it's just crazy. The introductions are crazy and I'm looking forward to it."

Fan support has never been an issue for Big Blue Madness, unless the issue is too many fans wanting to attend, which was the case this year.

UK had to stop guaranteeing tickets to the dedicated members of the Big Blue Nation who camped out weeks before Big Blue Madness. Usually if you camped out, you received a ticket. But UK never accounted for 755 tents being pitched nearly two days before tickets were released.

All tickets, those picked up in person and online, were claimed in 30 minutes.

And while the fans might seem crazy, they expect crazy things from the players.

"I heard it was crazy," Johnson said. "I have a little thing I'm doing but I can't tell you guys. No one is going to spill the beans."

In the past players have danced. John Wall's famous dance originated at Big Blue Madness, but getting down to the music isn't for everyone.

"I have been thinking about (dancing)," James Young said. "But I don't think I am."

For senior Jarrod Polson, it'll be his last chance at Madness, but he hasn't yet decided if he'll have a last dance.

"They were asking me what I was going to do for Big Blue Madness and I was like, 'Wow this is really my last one,'" Polson said. "I mean, four years have gone by pretty quickly here. I am just going to try to enjoy it the best I can."

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