After the high fives and the cheers died down, Coach Matthew Mitchell approached his team seated on the large couch in his den.
"Does anyone know the state motto for New Mexico?" he asked after UK learned it will be a four seed in the NCAA Tournament in Albuquerque.
His players laughed.
"It's the land of enchantment," he told them.
Mitchell hopes that it can be just that for his No. 17 Cats, who start their second NCAA Tournament run in as many seasons on Saturday night versus Hampton.
"We'll try to go for enchanting evenings out there," he said.
The coach told the media later that he was excited to see his team get back to the tournament.
"This team had to overcome so much, and we've had so many obstacles we've had to clear and so many times of adversity where we've had to bounce back," he said. "To land into the top 16 is a tremendous compliment to this group of players."
Sophomore point guard A'dia Mathies said getting two straight No. 4 seeds is a testament to the hard work the team puts in.
"They can't say last year was a fluke," Mathies said. "We came back this year and played very well. We're just looking to get even further."
Mitchell believes UK's up-tempo, aggressive style of play gives it an extra edge when it comes to tournament time.
"We are built — if our players will play hard and do what they're capable of — our team's really built for tournament play," he said. "It's tough to prepare for. It's a good style of play for a tournament."
The other first-round matchup at New Mexico is No. 5 seed North Carolina (26-8) against No. 12 seed Fresno State (25-7).
That game starts at 4:15 p.m., with the UK game following 30 minutes later on ESPN2.
Kentucky (24-8) is making its eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament. This is the first time since the 1982 and '83 seasons that the Cats are going two seasons in a row.
UK's first-round opponent, Hampton, won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title for the second straight season. The Pirates (25-6), winners of 13 straight, boast a win over Florida this season.
It was the Pirates' first win over a Southeastern Conference school, and they promised it won't be the last.
"Let's get us some Wildcat," said senior forward Quanneisha Perry, the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, to raucous applause on Monday night after the draw was announced.
Louisville made it back into the tournament, earning a No. 7 seed and a matchup with No. 10 seed Vanderbilt in Cincinnati on Sunday. It is the Cardinals' fifth appearance in the past six years.
The Commodores were one of only four SEC teams to make the tournament field. The others were top-seeded Tennessee, UK (No. 4 seed) and Georgia (No. 6 seed).
UK signee honored
Kentucky signee Bria Goss was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for her home state of Indiana.
The 5-foot-10 senior guard from Ben Davis High School averaged 21.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 3.2 assists this past season, leading the Giants (24-1) to the Class 4A state tournament round of 16.
Dunlap a Wooden finalist
UK senior forward Victoria Dunlap is one of 20 finalists for the John Wooden Award, one of college basketball's most prestigious honors. Only two SEC players made the final cut. The other was Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen.