Excitement brews over Robert Morris vs. Kentucky matchup

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The University of Kentucky, the defending national champions of college basketball, don't take the court at tiny Robert Morris University in Moon until Tuesday evening. But the Robert L. Sewall Center still was the scene of a full-court press this morning.

For tickets.

Just over 3,000 tickets to the first-round game of the National Invitation Tournament went on sale at 9 a.m. "Sold Out" signs were taped to doors before noon.

Part of the reason might have been the prices: $5 for students and as low as $15 for the public.

"I've never seen anything like it, not like this," said Marty Galosi, the university's associate athletic director, who is hoping to squeeze 3,500 people into a gymnasium that usually accommodates 3,056. "This is beyond, beyond, beyond capacity. It's gotten to the point where we just don't have any more room.

"But this is Kentucky. I mean, there's nothing else you need to say."

The Wildcats are used to playing in sold-out Rupp Arena, which seats 23,500. They're also used to playing in the NCAA tournament, the big dance that determines college basketball's national champion. But their coach, John Calipari, grew up in Moon.

He assured reporters he had nothing to do with arranging Tuesday's homecoming.

Robert Morris has never hosted a postseason game. But Colonials fans are ready.

Jennifer Ross, 19, from Ligonier, and her friend, Courtney Kern, 19, from Avella, are freshmen on the RMU rowing team. They decided to get tickets for this game as soon as it was announced Sunday night.

"I just think it's a huge thing for us to be there and support our school because the boys need it," said Miss Kern, who was the one who stood in line. "When it's crazy, they seem to have a faster pace and do better."

"It shows that everyone supports all the sports teams. We're all one big team," Miss Ross said.

"It's especially big because it's Kentucky," Miss Kern said. "It's definitely exciting to know a bigger school that you always see on TV is coming here, to a school that is not too well known."

Doug Zalla, 48, a marketing executive from Upper St. Clair, had never seen Robert Morris play. But he made sure he was on campus today to get four tickets.

"I'm actually a Kentucky fan," he said. "I like Robert Morris, but we lived in Lexington for 10 years before we moved here five years ago."

And no worries about being crammed into the Colonials' small gym.

"It should be a great venue to see the game in," Mr. Zalla said.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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