BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. --- The students filed into Gardner-Webb's tiny arena wearing red shirts, some with their faces painted, many carrying signs.
Maybe they were skipping class on Thursday afternoon. But many of their instructors were among the hundreds there for the pep rally, too. They were all celebrating the school's signature moment -- its upset of No. 20 Kentucky at Rupp Arena a night earlier.
"UKan't run with the Dawgs!" read one sign. Another student carried a blue Kentucky banner, only "Who?" was spray-painted over it in giant red letters.
As the players milled around next to the cheerleaders and the band, coach Rick Scruggs was trying to talk over the cheers despite his hoarse voice.
"The enormity of it, it's still hitting me now," Scruggs said. "You always think about playing in Rupp, at North Carolina and those people."
Only this private Baptist school of 4,000 students won, beating the winningest program in Division I college basketball history -- by 16 on its home floor -- in the second round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
"It's been fun," former walk-on and leading scorer Grayson Flittner said.
"It's neat to see a little buzz around Boiling Springs, N.C., for once."
Flittner and Thomas Sanders, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds, walked into the school cafeteria for lunch Thursday and received a standing ovation.
And the ride isn't ending for the Bulldogs. They'll play in the semifinals of the tournament next week in New York.
"If you had told me we'd be playing at Rupp Arena and Madison Square Garden in back to back weeks, I never would have believed it," Scruggs said.