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Red Raider fans ready for massive Kentucky matchup

With Raiderville being established 51 hours before tipoff, the student section is ready for one of the biggest matchups in school history.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The 15th ranked Kentucky Wildcats will be in Lubbock this Saturday to take on the 18th ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders. This is the first time the Wildcats have been in Lubbock since 1965. This is one of, if not the, biggest non-conference home games in Texas Tech program history. Ticket prices for the matchup are higher than any other current NBA or NCAA basketball game, with average prices around $400.

Promotions for the game started at the beginning of the season with the offering of the “Kentucky Guarantee”. If Tech students attended the first 5 home games of the season, they would be given a wristband that guarantees admission into the Kentucky matchup. Over 2,000 students have their guarantee, and 2,270 general admission seats are still available. The game is also a blackout game, where attendees are encouraged to wear all black. Many Tech fans have also put the content on their social media in black and white, including starting forward TJ Holyfield.

One of the most incredible aspects surrounding the big matchup is the dedication of Texas Tech students. Raiderville, a tradition where students camp out multiple nights before a game in hopes of getting the best seat possible, has been apart of Red Raider athletics since 2008. The first tent to arrive in Raiderville for this Kentucky game was pitched at 2 PM on Thursday, nearly 51 hours before tipoff.

This means students waiting in line would be subject to the cold Lubbock night, but they don’t seem to mind. Rory McGowan, one of the first to pitch a tent and member of the Raider Riot said, “It’s really not about the cold or the lack of food...it’s about having a good time and showing our spirit.” Freshman Isabella Allen was planning to arrive early Saturday morning to wait in line, but when she went to pick up her guarantee wristband on Friday, she noticed there were already campers at the arena. After realizing people were in line she went to buy a tent, set it up Friday afternoon, and will now be one of the first dozen students entered into United Supermarkets Arena. These students are not just passionate, they know what this team needs to do to win. When I asked senior Luke Blackwell what he thought the Red Raiders needed to do to win he answered, “Offensive and defensive post play...allowing easy buckets and offensive rebounds has been something we’ve struggled with.” One of the most important parts of this game will be slowing down Kentucky’s leading scorer, Nick Richards, who is 6’11”.

Students waiting in line have been given food and drink from Chick-Fil-A, Teddy Jack’s, Papa John’s, Krispy Kreme, J&B Coffee, and others. Topping it all off will be a Two Docs tailgate starting Saturday morning that includes free beer (to students of age) and free food. Coach Chris Beard paid a visit to the students on Thursday night. Students also got to see Tech Alumni Trey Culver. Trey FaceTimed his brother, former Texas Tech player and starting shooting guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves Jarrett Culver, to show him the campers.

The student section in United Supermarkets Arena is known as one of the rowdiest in the nation, and this Saturday may be the loudest it has ever been. With 5,000 of the loudest students in the country and 15,000 total packed inside the USA, these fans are ready to demonstrate why you don’t wanna play in Lubbock. As the excitement continues to brew, tune in Saturday at 5 to watch this team play one of the biggest games in program history.