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UConn students celebrate championship

STORRS, Conn. (AP) - More than 10,000 UConn students shook the stands inside Gampel Pavilion Monday night, then erupted in cheers, stormed the arena floor and poured into the streets as their men's basketball team won its fourth national championship, and second in four years.

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''I'm just so happy to be a Husky right now,'' said Mike Butkus, a 21-year-old senior from Naugatuck. ''So much pride. The last 20 years, you'd be hard-pressed to find a program more successful than us.''

After the victory the students came outside and onto a plaza for a dance party in the rain. The school hired a disc jockey in an effort to keep crowds of students under control. As many danced, others were hanging from trees and throwing firecrackers.

Extra campus police and state police patrolled on and around campus and several local fire companies were on standby with ambulances. Several people were helped from the arena by paramedics, apparently with alcohol-related issues.

Students said they expect the party to go on into the early morning hours.

''Hopefully I'll be able to go to class tomorrow, but I'm not certain,'' said Vincent Buffa, a 21-year-old senior from Tolland.

Students waited in line for up to four hours to get a seat inside the arena just to watch on three large movie screens as their team played 1,700 miles away in Arlington, Texas.

A half hour after the doors opened, the arena was filled, and hundreds more were turned away.

''It's my first year of college, you've got to go big,'' said Ryan Massicotte, an 18-year-old freshman from Naugatuck who was sporting a fuzzy Husky dog hat and sunglasses with the dog logo on each lens. ''You've got to show it off the right way.''

The students sang the national anthem, chanted ''Let's go Huskies'' before the tip, roared when the home team was introduced and booed the Kentucky players.

The stands shook every time Shabazz Napier made a 3-pointer. The pep band and school dance team entertained the crowd during timeouts.

Fans jumped up and down chanting ''I believe that we will win'' as their Huskies struggled through a second-half rally by Kentucky.

A few minutes later, as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Texas, they pushed their way on the floor, turning it into a giant mosh pit as their belief became a 60-54 reality.

It was expected to be especially loud outside the North Campus residence hall, where an email from a resident assistant bent on enforcing quiet hours went viral on Monday.

School officials confirmed the authenticity of the email, but said it was actually sent out to residents of the RA's floor on Saturday, before the national semifinals. But it began getting wide circulation on social media sites on Monday.

The student, identified in the email only as ''Derek'' wrote that students partying because of a name on the front of a basketball jersey would be ''cheering for laundry.''

''That's the anti-fun,'' said Brian Aggerbeck, a 20-year-old junior from Hopkinton, Mass. ''That's the opposite of what I want to do. I just want to be able to enjoy myself. I'm not one of those people who destroys things, but we should be allowed to have fun on a night like this.''

There were no immediate reports of any major problems, but numerous alcohol-related arrests, the school said.

The undefeated women play for a record ninth national title Tuesday in Nashville. The Husky teams are now a combined 12-0 in NCAA championship games.

A pep rally to honor the men's team was scheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Gampel Pavilion.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
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