Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The view from inside Pauley...

Where do I begin.... Remember that time when we beat #1 (or some people say #2) UCLA at Pauley Pavilion? Well I sure do. Probably unlike most of you, I was there. In person. I may have been sitting in the top corner as far from the court as I could be... but I was there nonetheless. By the way, the court at Pauley? Off-center. It's closer to east end of the stadium than the west. Me? Sitting in the west... However, I could still see the game. What a game it was.

Walking around Westwood before the game with our orange on was quite fun, as it is most times when you're wandering around enemy territory. We got many "Tough day to be a Texas fan!" shouts yelled our way and, of course, a few times we were told that we suck. I didn't do much in way of response as they were probably just trying to redeem themselves after their loss to USC the day before.

First observation when getting to the game - the student section gets to sit along the side of the court! Another school, another student section that gets good treatment - but, of course, they were deserving (unlike the Ozone or Stampede or whatever the hell it's called these days at UT). The three sections on the floor and the 3 in the rafters were filled by the time we got there, around 30 min before tip off, and they started making their presence known as soon as their players hit the court. Everytime the jumbotron showed a UCLA player on screen, the students would chant their name until the player recognized the students. First up was Kevin Love and I swear he must be the most egotistical freshman of all time because he let them chant his name for about 5 minutes before giving them their due. You can only imagine how annoying this became over the rest of warmups....

The beginning of the game was intense. The crowd was in it, and pretty loud, although not as loud as I've heard at places like Kansas & Oklahoma St. When Texas started making small runs, the crowd stayed in it and tried to keep the Bruins in it... but after we scored about 8 in a row, the crowd's energy completely died. For the next 10 minutes, all you could hear were the Texas fans spread throughout the arena. It was great.... But of course, as UCLA stormed back, so did the crowd and they stayed pretty energized for the rest of the game.

Honestly the last play of the game is a blur to me. I remember we were tied and had the ball with a chance to win. I remember DJ driving, just throwing the ball at the rim, and I don't know where the hell he came from, but Damion James somehow finished it with a dunk. Then the screaming ensued. I went nuts. Absolutely nuts. Then, for the split second when UCLA's last shot was in the air, I stopped screaming, only to start again the moment I knew it missed. Pretty much by the time I was done screaming Pauley had pretty much cleared out, minus the other Texas fans who had been busy screaming as well.

Walking out of Pauley, having just beaten the #1 ranked team in country, it felt good. And really, the guy was right about it being a tough day to be a Texas fan, my throat was really hurting for the rest of the night. But, being a winner really helped me to get over that.

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