The bright lights of Times Square called to Kentucky last season in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
The Cats took advantage of the trip to New York City and made a bus trip downtown to take in the sights and sounds.
That's tougher to do when the first two rounds are in Lexington this year, but UK is going to try and make the most of it.
Kentucky needs to "enjoy being at home, enjoy being in Lexington, enjoy playing at our facility, but really understand that it's not going to guarantee you a thing," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said after the Cats were named the No. 3 seed in the Notre Dame regional. "You have to go out and earn you some victories here."
At an intimate Selection Monday party in Memorial Coliseum, the 10th-ranked Cats (24-8) learned they will meet Wright State, a first-time winner of the Horizon League, in the first round at 11 a.m. Saturday in Memorial Coliseum.
Should UK advance, it would meet the winner of the second Saturday game between No. 6 seed Syracuse (22-9) and No. 11 seed Chattanooga (29-3).
Should the Cats keep moving forward, they'd move onto the regional at South Bend, Ind., home of the unbeaten Fighting Irish, the only top seed that will get a chance to play on its own home floor with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
A potential rematch of the four-overtime, ice storm game at Cowboys Stadium in December looms large in the region semifinals against Baylor, too.
But Kentucky, which has advanced to the Elite Eight three of the past four years only to get shut down by Connecticut in the last two tournaments, has learned not to look too far ahead.
Mitchell said his team is just going to do what it did at the Southeastern Conference Tournament last week and move forward together as a team.
"We want to be serious as far as preparation goes, but trying to keep that theme of going out and making it fun on the court with our play and try to have some fun when we're together off the court."
But not too much fun.
After the NCAA Tournament draw, Mitchell mentioned the team would be staying at a local hotel during the tournament rounds in Lexington and treating it like a road game for fewer distractions.
Will there be any side trips like the ride to Times Square last season or the dinner on a mountain in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2011?
"Could take them to the Horse Park; we could take them over to Ashland, see the mansion," he joked. "I'm not taking them to Maker's Mark, going to try to keep our wits about us in the NCAA Tournament. We don't need to be boozing it up."
The coach will remind them that they have a special opportunity to play at home for the first two rounds and that they need to make the most of it.
"We need to use it to our advantage," Mitchell said. "We've had a good run here historically, but this has been a year where it's not been automatic that we win at home."
The players have known since before the season started that they would be hosting the first two rounds at their home venue, but it still felt special when Lexington popped up on the ESPN selection show, forward DeNesha Stallworth said.
"We're just excited to start," said the Richmond, Calif., native who admitted she was hoping a little bit that the Cats' region would be in her home state. "I'm just so excited, just happy."
Wright State connections
Just a day before the selection show, Mitchell was sending a congratulatory text to Wright State Coach Mike Bradbury after the Raiders won their first Horizon League championship.
"It was such a big win for him yesterday to beat Green Bay and get into the tournament," Mitchell said. "He and I share a bond being former Morehead State coaches. I've known him a long time and I was happy for him. I know they have a good team. ... I know Mike's an awfully good coach."
Bradbury took over the Morehead State program when Mitchell was hired at Kentucky. Bradbury also is a Chattanooga graduate. The Lady Mocs are the No. 11 seed in the second game in Lexington on Saturday.
The Raiders have one other Kentucky connection in former Ryle standout Abby Jump. The junior guard comes off the bench and averages 3.5 points a game.