Marcey Bronczyk was beaming and breathless Monday afternoon as she stood outside the ticket booth at Memorial Coliseum.
Bronczyk, 53, and her son Chris Bronczyk, 24, both University of Kentucky students, had just won the right to buy tickets to the UK men's basketball team's opening-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Louisville.
Just 100 student tickets were available through the lottery, and about 200 students showed up hoping for the right to buy them.
The Bronczyks were among the half who left happy.
"It's exciting," said Chris Bronczyk, a senior majoring in geography and political science. "It's a new experience — I never win anything."
Marcey Bronczyk, who said she decided to go into UK's medical laboratory science program after her husband died three years ago, went to the lottery just to help double her son's odds of getting a ticket.
"Now that I'm going, I'm super-excited," she said.
No. 1 seed Kentucky will play either Western Kentucky University or Mississippi Valley State at 6:50 p.m. Thursday at KFC Yum Center in Louisville.
If Kentucky wins, students who won Monday's ticket lottery will also have tickets to the next round, also in Louisville, to be played Saturday. The tickets are $60 for each of the two sessions, but students' credit cards will be charged for the second session only if UK is playing in it.
Other fans might have a hard time getting similar tickets because they are sold out, according to Yum Center's Web site.
As students entered the coliseum Monday, they were issued a number. Then, one by one, 50 numbers were drawn from a box.
Each student whose number was called was told to choose one friend who was present with them to come down to the floor to claim ticket vouchers.
Jake Karnes, an assistant dean in the Dean of Students' office, said UK conducted the lottery in pairs because students want to have someone to go to the game with, and it makes it easier for them to arrange for travel and hotels.
The student tickets are not transferrable; lottery winners were told to bring their driver's licenses and student IDs card with them to Louisville.
Student tickets to later rounds will be distributed through an online lottery for which students must sign up by Friday.
Sisters Paige Higdon, a freshman, and Susan Higdon, a junior in the College of Dentistry, said they have attended most of the games this season.
"It's been a fun ride," Susan Higdon said. "The fans are what make it, so we're there to support."
Pharmacy students Tyler and Lindsey Franklin were the last pair called in the lottery.
The couple said they had just returned from watching UK play in the SEC tournament in New Orleans, and they hope they — and their team — will be lucky enough to wind up there again when the Final Four is played.
"We love our Cats," Lindsey Franklin said.
Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety