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Keightley Jersey

Say what you will about Kentucky’s basketball team so far, but one thing’s for sure: they know how to use their uniforms to make a statement. Take, for instance, the kits from yesterday’s game against winless Mississippi Valley State. To commemorate the passing of long-time equipment manager Bill Keightley, the Wildcats wore black uniforms for the first time in the modern era. Not only that, but each jersey had Keightley’s name on the back to honor the man who gave so much to Kentucky’s basketball program.

Re-retiring a jersey, black uniforms and a chance to sit in his chair on the bench on Sunday became the latest ways Kentucky honored the late Bill Keightley.

Keightley, who worked in UK basketball’s equipment room for 48 years, died this spring. In honor of his service and iconic status as “Mr. Wildcat,” UK unveiled a No. 48 jersey in the Rupp Arena rafters at halftime of its game with Mississippi Valley State.

Bonus: Kentucky also won their tribute game, something that didn’t look so certain after Saturday’s limp attempt against Miami (the first half, anyway). As a noted fan of the Wildcats, I must say these black jerseys look sharp and I certainly support the occasion. I just don’t want them becoming yearly (or weekly) variants of the Kentucky uniform, ala the Duke Blue Devils.

Doing so to pay tribute to a fallen member of the program is an awesome gesture. Doing it to generate additional apparel sales is hollow. With that in mind, they are supposed to go on sale later this week. Just in time for Christmas, too!!!

At least the players liked them:

The reminder of black uniforms met with the players’ enthusiastic approval. They didn’t know they’d be wearing anything but black shoes until they returned to the locker room after pre-game warmups.

Then they saw the black uniforms, trimmed in blue, in their lockers.

“We were like kids waking up on Christmas,” Patterson said. “Jaws dropped open. People wanted to start taking pictures.”