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Originally published April 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM | Page modified April 3, 2012 at 11:41 PM

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National champs return home to hero's welcome | Basketball

Deafening cheers greeted the Kentucky Wildcats on their return to Lexington after beating Kansas for the national championship.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Another championship banner has been unfurled at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky's men's basketball team returned home to its adoring fans Tuesday after defeating Kansas 67-59 Monday night for the school's eighth NCAA championship.

Blue-clad fans erupted into cheers as the team pulled into the packed arena aboard a sleek blue bus emblazoned with "national champions."

It was a joyous curtain call for a team led by a talented group of freshmen and sophomores. The NBA likely beckons next for several of them.

"You know why we won the national title? Folks, we have the best players and we have the best team," coach John Calipari told the crowd, which erupted into deafening cheers.

Calipari reminded the crowd that his goal three seasons ago when he took the Kentucky coaching job was to restore the Wildcats to the "gold standard" in college basketball and to raise more championship banners.

Then on cue, the 2012 title banner slowly unfurled from the rafters at the arena as the Kentucky pep band played and fans cheered.

About 5,000 fans had welcomed the team at the airport and more lined the streets between the airport and Rupp Arena.

"You people never cease to amaze me," Calipari told the crowd.

Man shot after game

has foot amputated

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Louisville man's foot was amputated after he was wounded in a shooting incident early Tuesday, police said.

Police said the incident occurred about 2:15 a.m. near the area where there were celebrations after Kentucky's victory over Kansas.

The victim's name was not immediately available, and police were looking for the person who shot him. The victim has "outstanding felony warrants" pending from another state, a police spokeswoman said.

Firefighters answered almost 60 fire calls, 55 of them involving "nuisance fires" started by people celebrating the Wildcats' victory, a fire department spokesman said.

Notes

• CBS said its broadcast of the Kentucky-Kansas game averaged 20.9 million viewers, a 4 percent gain from last year's Connecticut-Butler finale. It was the second-biggest audience for the title game in the last seven years, the network said.

• Weber State guard Damian Lillard, who was second in the country in scoring at 24.5 points per game, will skip his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA draft.

• Michigan State starting center Derrick Nix was suspended indefinitely from the team after his arrest in East Lansing, Mich., on suspicion of operating a vehicle with any presence of drugs and possession of marijuana.

• San Diego State and Syracuse will play in the inaugural Battle on the Midway game on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum Nov. 9 in San Diego Bay.

Karen Aston, a former Texas assistant coach, was introduced as the Longhorns' new women's coach. Aston, 47, has a 101-63 career record in four years at Charlotte and one at North Texas.

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