In the main arena bowl at the United Center, the band struck up as halftime drew to an end. Cheers followed. Evidently there had been sufficient cleanup of all the UCLA blood and dignity spilled on the court that it was deemed safe for the Kentucky basketball team to return to the killing floor. And at this moment, three members of the school’s spirit squad popped out of a room off a hallway in the back. Their problem hit them. They had left the Wildcats without pom aid.
“That’s our fight song,” one of the girls said. “Oops. I think we missed it.”
And that was it. On the list of Kentucky’s imperfections Saturday, that was the beginning and the end. The rest was brutish, unmerciful and just completely absurd, this 83-44 victory that transcended all metaphors for demolition or involuntary surgeries. This was something far, far more terrifying, something we had not seen this insensate leviathan accomplish before: The Wildcats destroyed a team’s hope. That is a very hard thing to do against athletes conditioned to believe all things are possible at all times.