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Saturday night, the UConn student section looked like Detroit's Fox Theater an hour into Charlie Sheen's "Violent Torpedos of Truth" stage show debut -- mostly empty. The school was allotted the same 800 seats as the three other participating teams, but the cost of travel from Storrs, Conn., was too high for the average student.
Tonight, as the Huskies and Bulldogs take the court to warm up for the national title game, UConn's student section looks decidedly fuller. Turns out the University of Connecticut called for a little backup.
Students from both Rice University and the Unversity of Houston were offered free tickets to tonight's game, provided they hang out in the UConn section and fill up some of that empty space. Student athletes from UH and the entire student body from Rice were emailed via list serve this morning, with the offer of a free ticket to each of the first 300 respondents from each school.
Included in the crowd are a number of UH football players, including quarterback Case Keenum, who had Heisman aspirations before a knee injury ended his 2010 season early. Keenum brought some muscle with him in the form of a handful of defensive lineman, sure to beef up UConn's dog pound. UConn's fan base gets a little extra speed too, as UH running backs Marc Woods and Marcus Williams, and receiver Pat Edwards, also picked up tickets.
One defensive lineman -- who will remain nameless -- said he's from Indiana and secretly rooting for Butler. Surrounded by UConn students (and Huskies fans for a day) he said he'll keep his hometown ties quiet. Good thing for him UConn will take anybody they can get -- literally, any body.