Rice said the arena "was a little quiet at first," before the game, "but the people came out in droves."
Rice made the trip to Lexington with her husband, John Rice, to help celebrate her son's 22nd birthday Monday. Bradley wasn't expecting his mother to be in town this time of year.
"He had no idea I was coming," she said. "We tricked him (into coming at the airport). When he saw me, he was like in awe."
Bradley was surprised to see his mother in Kentucky.
"It made me feel very good," he said. "For her to be so far away, it was nice. I don't get the chance to see her that much. For her to come over here and surprise me for my birthday, it made me feel good.
First trip to Kentucky
"It (was) her first time in Kentucky ever, so it made me want to go out there and play a little harder for her."
With his mother looking on, Bradley scored a team-high 21 points and dished out a career-high nine assists. In the second half, scoring 14 points and knocking down a clutch 3-pointer down the stretch.
Bradley drew stand-up applause from his mother after he had a nifty pass to teammate Derrick Jasper that resulted in a dunk by Jasper late in the second half.
"I'm so proud of him," Rice whispered after watching Bradley sink a pair of free throws that helped the Wildcats hold off the Gamecocks.
While watching her son play at Rupp was a first, Rice previously saw Bradley play in a collegiate game at Georgia "a couple of years ago."
Even in Athens, Rice was impressed with the turnout of Kentucky fans.
"There was so much blue and white, I couldn't believe it," she said. "I got chills on my arm, my hair was standing up. The Kentucky fans are great. They're great, just really great."
Rice was scheduled to return to the Big Apple today, but she enjoyed a slice of the Bluegrass during her brief visit.
"I'm going to miss (the Florida game), but it's OK," she said. "I'm glad they won tonight, that was good."
Rice won't be in attendance when the Cats play the Gators on Saturday, but she didn't rule out a return to Rupp.
"I'm definitely coming back for another game," Rice.
After 30-plus seasons, Rupp is still making an impression.