LEXINGTON, Ky. >> Police are forcefully warning Kentucky fans that a repeat Monday of the dangerous weekend celebrations won’t be tolerated for the game to decide college basketball’s national champion.
Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin said some revelers Saturday night acted in a "dangerous and criminal" way by setting fires, overturning cars and hurling bottles into the air.
"This behavior cannot and will not be tolerated," Bastin said at a news conference Monday at police headquarters. "We want to send a clear and strong message that individuals who engage in this behavior will be investigated and prosecuted."
Police made more than 30 arrests near the UK campus Saturday night for arson, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, and authorities are expecting more arrests from that night’s revelry. Police showed the media photos of people in Saturday night’s crowds who have been targeted for arson and assault charges once they are identified. Bastin said patrols would be beefed up for Monday before and after the game, but he declined to give details.
Some students on campus in Lexington Monday said the partying could be more intense if Kentucky defeats Kansas for its eighth national title.
"I think it’s going to be terrible. Lock your doors," said Andy Mains, a 25-year-old student studying social work. Even if the Wildcats lose, he said, "it’ll be just as bad, lock your doors no matter what."
Mains said he and other students were a little embarrassed by the raucous behavior Saturday night.
"It shows that we can’t handle our liquor," he said.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto also issued a warning Monday ahead of the game, which tips off at 9:23 p.m. EST. Capilouto said the rowdy behavior detracted from the success of the players "who have worked tirelessly to represent UK at a national level."
"I implore you to be safe, be respectful, and don’t be stupid," Capilouto said in a statement.
UK’s campus was peaceful Monday afternoon, but excitement was in the air as blue-clad fans and students eagerly anticipated Kentucky’s first trip to the title game in 14 years.
Shouts of "Go Cats!" and honking horns were already audible near the campus’ main library in the early afternoon.
Across the street, sophomore Colby Myers and a friend were constructing a humorous tribute to Kentucky star forward and AP Player of the Year Anthony Davis. In the front yard of the Farmhouse Fraternity on Hilltop Avenue, they were sticking black plastic forks in the ground in the shape of Davis’s bushy eyebrows — which Myers and other fans endearingly call Davis’ "unibrow."
Myers, a 19-year-old agriculture student from Harrodsburg, said he hopes fans keep the celebration safe if Kentucky wins.
"I think it’s a little extreme, flipping cars and stuff, there’s other ways to celebrate without doing all that," Myers said.
University officials at the news conference Monday afternoon also warned students that aside from criminal charges, students could face suspension or expulsion for bad behavior.
"Students are reminded that inappropriate action can impact their academic career for years to come," said UK Dean Victor Hazard.