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Lifestyles

March 23, 2012

House divided: Husband, wife on opposite sides for IU, UK rematch

NEW ALBANY — New Albany residents Stephanie and Todd Taggart have been married for seven years and have two children. However, this time of year, their’s is a house divided.

Stephanie, 34, is a fan of the Indiana University Hoosiers, while Todd, 43, roots for the University of Kentucky Wildcats. And, no, they haven’t just picked the teams because they’re facing each other in tonight’s Sweet 16 matchup in Atlanta. To the contrary, they’ve both been lifelong fans of their respective schools.

The two not only watch every game, but also attend quite a few.

“Her whole family, they’ve got season tickets right there on the floor. They used to go every year, every game,” Todd said. “I have to go against her and her whole family — 95 percent to 5 percent.”

Reluctantly, he’s taken the trip to Assembly Hall in Bloomington on a couple of occasions. She’s not been to Rupp arena in Lexington but has gone to Commonwealth Stadium when the two schools met on the football field recently.

Usually when the two teams meet, Todd said he has to watch the Wildcats by himself.

“I don’t want to watch it with her family,” he said. “Because if [IU] wins, I get it. And if [UK] wins I still get it.”

On Dec. 10, when the schools last met and IU pulled off an upset for the ages with a last-second three-pointer, Todd was quiet, Stephanie said.

“I jumped up and down whenever they beat them,” she said. “He just kind of looked at me and had a big smile on his face.”

Todd said he thought IU had a chance that day because they were playing in Bloomington.

“I thought it could go either way. When Kentucky started coming back I thought ‘well, IU’s going to blow it.’ Then here comes that last second shot.”

This is the 55th meeting between the two schools, according to UK athletics’ official website. The Wildcats lead the series, but it’s close at 31-24. Kentucky has won three of the last four against the Hoosiers and nine of the last 12 in the series.

In 2003, the two attended the IU-UK game together when they played on a somewhat neutral court at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. UK got the better of that game, pulling out a 40 point victory.

They had extra tickets so Todd decided to bring a few of his UK friends.

“Usually I’m the outcast, but this time Stephanie was the only IU fan. We all rode together and she just got harassed the whole time.”

The pair’s opinion of the rival school is different for the most part, as well.  

Todd is a native Hoosier who graduated Washington High School — the same school that Hoosier star Cody Zeller came from — so he tries to root for IU when they’re not playing Kentucky.

“I don’t dislike them, but the more her family gets on me, it pushes me away from [IU.]”

Stephanie on the other hand, doesn’t live and let live when it comes to UK.

“I am an avid disliker,” she said. “I have a daughter that’s 9 years old and likes to say ‘yucky Kentucky.’”

The two also have an 8-week-old baby boy who they feel is bound to be a fan of one of the two schools.

“He’s going to have his UK on” for tonight’s game, Todd said.

They plan to watch Friday’s game together but have different opinions of what the outcome is going to be.

“I think it’s going to be a high scoring game, I'm going to say 89-71 [Wildcats win,]” Todd said.

Stephanie disagrees, of course.

 “It’s going to be a lot closer, I’ll say 89-84, but of course I got to say IU.”

The game tips off at 9:45 p.m. Friday on CBS. Kentucky is the favorite as the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. IU is a No. 4 seed.

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