The Kentucky-born actress had watched the Wildcats beat Louisville on Saturday and then gone to watch her husband, Indy-Car champion Dario Franchitti, race Sunday. She brought Franchitti — who said he had seen Kentucky play in person only twice before — back with her for the title game and was almost at a loss to explain how happy she was after UK beat Kansas 67-59 to win the national title.
“Can I say I almost wet myself?” Judd said as she laughed and watched the players celebrating on the court. “I didn’t, but Kentucky fans will know what I mean.¿I am at the level I could wet myself. It was that exciting. It was really exciting.
“I expected Kansas would make some runs and we would withstand them well, but I got concerned when we made back-to-back turnovers (late in the second half) but our defense was incredible. I think our offense tapered off a little in the second half (when UK¿had only seven field goals). But it was great just to win.”
Kentucky assistant coach Kenny¿Payne then walked by Judd and stopped to hug her and thank her for being there.
“I would not have missed this. No way,” she said. “It is so wonderful.”
Judd was thrilled her husband got to experience the national title game with her.
She joked he had been to a game at Rupp Arena when he had a broken toe, and someone seeking an autograph stepped on him.
“The pain was so that he had a long memory of that,” she said. “But I am really glad we can replace that memory with this.”
Franchitti admitted he “enjoyed the game a lot” even though he was not quite as spirited as his wife and normally remained seated even when she was standing and cheering.
“I really know very little about basketball other than what I¿learned through the wife. It’s just terrific achievement, though, what Kentucky did tonight,” he said. “The whole season she said to me, ‘This team is special. This team is special.’ To be here and experience this with her was very cool. To watch the players’ reaction and the reaction of the fans, it obviously means a lot to a lot of people.
“I very much enjoyed it and congratulations to the team. Everything Ashley has been telling me is true. Kansas put up a hell of a fight, too, but Kentucky wasn’t going down.”
However, he did get a bit apprehensive when Kansas cut the lead to 62-57 with 97 seconds to play.
“I get stressed watching. I am not this massive basketball fan and I was getting stressed with two minutes to go and thought, ‘Oh no.’ I¿think I am better at doing than watching, but it was a hell of a game and I know Ashley is leaving happy. I’m not quite sure how it would have been going home if Kentucky had not won,” he said.