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January 28, 2010

SEC seeks $25,000 for celebration following UK win

One of the biggest wins in USC men's basketball history will cost the school $25,000.

One of the biggest wins in USC men's basketball history will cost the school $25,000.

USC was fined that amount by the SEC on Wednesday, a day after fans stormed the court following the 68-62 victory against No. 1 Kentucky.

It was USC's second violation of the conference's rule, which was instituted in 2004. The first came in 2005, when fans rushed onto the court after a win against then-No. 3 Kentucky. That drew a $5,000 fine.

If USC is found in violation a third time within the next three years, it would result in a $50,000 fine. If it happens after the three-year period, it will be considered a second offense and result in another $25,000 fine.

In a statement, USC athletics director Eric Hyman accepted the punishment.

"First, let me say that the atmosphere at the Colonial Life Arena Tuesday night was as exciting as any time since I've been here. Our fans did a great job all night and the student section was awesome. We certainly don't want to take away from that enthusiasm and excitement," Hyman said.

"However, the SEC schools voted unanimously on the sportsmanship policy and the subsequent fines for violating that policy, and we support it fully. The purpose of the policy is for the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, officials, students and our many fans. While I was thrilled with the outcome of the game, I was also very concerned that we follow this policy to prevent a dangerous situation from occurring."

USC star Devan Downey encouraged fans late in the game to come on the court, asking security to let them on. But it appeared the rush was inevitable, with or without Downey's urging.

"We made history," Downey said Wednesday. "This school has never beaten a No. 1 team in the country. You know, this is something that you've gotta do. (I'm) not saying that this was right or wrong or whatever. But to beat the No. 1 team in the country, you want to remember that moment in a special way. So yeah, I told them to run on to the court."

The rush apparently led to an incident between a USC fan and a Kentucky player. WLTX broadcaster Bob Shields said he spoke to a student, who also called in to Shield's morning radio show, who said he got into a physical altercation with UK freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins.

The student, who only gave his first name as "Stephen," told Shields it was "worth it."

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