Keightley Still 'Mr. Wildcat'

FAYETTEVILLE -- Bill Keightley, Kentucky's 80-year-old equipment manager, hustled nimbly to keep from getting run over by two Razorbacks during a pregame drill on Saturday.

"My knees are not good," said the man called Mr. Wildcat. "But my mind is better than when I was 25. I focus better now."

Keightley, who is in his 47th consecutive year with Kentucky, began under legendary Adolph "The Baron" Rupp in 1961. He fondly remembers former Arkansas coach Eddie Sutton, who guided Kentucky from 1985-89.

"Eddie is a great guy," Keightley said. "He's doing well, but I know he misses coaching."

James Dickey, who assisted Sutton at Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State, called Keightley on Monday morning.

"James is one of my favorite people," Keightley said. "We had a long phone conversation."

Keightley is so beloved at Kentucky that his "number" is retired in Rupp Arena. The jersey says "Mr. Wildcat."


Arkansas freshman Patrick Beverley scored 25 points on Saturday, including his team's last 14. Ten of those came in a 29.2-second span inside the final minute.

UK coach Tubby Smith said, "I was very impressed with Beverley. He plays the game with passion, heart and hustle. A kid like that is a winner."

Hogs coach Stan Heath agreed.

"It didn't seem like Patrick wanted to be denied at the end. I'm proud of him. He's a gamer."

Beverley shrugged off his late-game binge.

"If you're a true winner, you do anything it takes to win, whether it's a 20-point run by yourself or 10 assists," Beverley said.

He pointed to Arkansas' 19 turnovers as the problem.

"They threw a full-court press at us and we weren't ready for it," Beverley said. "We kinda stood around on offense."


Tim Brando and former Kentucky hoops star Larry Conley called the game on TV for Lincoln Financial Services.

During a timeout respite with 11:42 left, after Kentucky had whittled a 45-31 deficit to 49-44 in five minutes, Conley said, "Kentucky is tough. Their small lineup made a difference."

Brando noted after the game, "It looked like Tubby got mad when (Steven) Hill drove around (UK center Randolph) Morris. But with Morris sitting out awhile, it looked like Hill got tired. And Arkansas not having Charles Thomas really showed up in the last six or seven minutes."

In the final 7:05, Kentucky outscored Arkansas 27-18.


At halftime, UA defensive tackle Keith Jackson was honored with the Crip Hall Award, given to the outstanding Hogs senior at Homecoming each year. Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker accepted on Jackson's behalf. Against Southeast Missouri State, Jackson had 4 tackles, 2 quarterback hurries, a sack and a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Also at intermission Saturday, it was announced that 2,200 blood donors had participated in the 13th annual Game of Life Blood Drive, with Kentucky students winning this year's competition.


Heath called the announced crowd of 19,739 in Bud Walton Arena "brilliant," but not all the seats were filled. And some fans began leaving during a timeout with 3:01 left, when Arkansas trailed 68-60. They missed Beverley's 14-point binge.

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