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Even without Nate Sestina, Cats know they have to still get better

Ashton Hagans (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky plays its first game tonight without Nick Sestina since he fractured his wrist in practice earlier this week when the Cats take on Alabama-Birmingham in Rupp Arena.

Sophomore guard Ashton Hagans says the injury gives Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks and Johnny Juzang can become bigger players for UK with Sestina out.

“It’s just time for us to get better and become that team that we’re looking forward to becoming at the end of the season,” Whitney said.

Still, doing that without Sestina won’t be nearly as easy for Kentucky.

“His physicality, his mindset. He’s talking loud all 40 minutes, the whole practice,” Hagans said. “That’s when Nick (Richards) steps in and talks more with us, EJ (Montgomery) talk more to us. It’s just, we’re at a perfect spot right now. Luckily it’s at the beginning of the season and we’ll have him (Sestina) back real soon.”

Whitney dislocated his finger during a recent game, popped it back into place and continued to play. He says “it’s getting better” and he will be ready to do more with Sestina out just like others will.

“Nate was a big part of rebounding and toughness in our team. So guys have to step up. It’s got to be me, Keion, Johnny playing a lot of minutes coming off the bench. We’ve just got to come in and be tough,” Whitney sad.

Sestina’s injury could result in Whitney playing more inside  despite his lack of size.

“It’s a big opportunity for everyone. We’ve just got to come in and be prepared for whoever that is,” Whtiney said.

He knows he’ll have to use his athleticism against bigger players who should also be slower than him.

“So that’s a mismatch, so I’ve got to take advantage of that,” Whitney said.

The freshman said UK understands UAB, a solid underdog, could still give UK trouble, a lesson the Cats learned in the loss to Evansville.

“We have to come out and play no matter who it is. Don’t lower your level of play down to the competition,” Whitney said.

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  1. Biggest Key for this game: Will the offense run through Nick and EJ or will our guards hog most of the shots? What will Keion do with his extra PT. Calipari doesn’t want to play Jordan much, but may have to until Nate gets back. Maybe Johnny gets more PT and finds his shot. This will be a different team when Nate comes back, he will have to focus on defense and rebounding until he finds a fit on offense.

    1. Hey ” Mr. Spartan” there you are. I thought you had left for East Lansing. The biggest key for this game is scoring more points than UAB in Calipari’s position less system. You still talking trash. Man do you ever shut up?

      1. Guys I think it’s time for a truce on this site. Yes I myself wasn’t an angel on this site at times but everybody is entitled there opinion that is without attacking each other’s personal ways. I get frustrated with Cals and Stoops coaching ablitys at times but who’s ferfect NOBODY is. Whomever the coach is regardless we will complain as always unless your not a KY WILDCATS fan

    2. Catmandoo…..just remember to stay strong and return fire on the HornPup sisters. They can’t handle fact based, truthful, objective analysis on team or coaching staff. Rah Rah!

      1. “Mr. Spartan” yes…. you stay strong for 1.5 more days. After that, not so much. “Silence” from the Catmandoo1000 will be golden.. Take the CHALLENGE “Mr Cardinal.” At least “Mr. Spartan” has guts. You just run you mouth. Come on lets hear some more negative out of you. You are good at that. LOL

        1. I would rather give you positives about you! LOL

  2. Pup, you will be history by 3pm tomorrow. There have been a lot of good games this week. Too bad Calipari is so afraid of playing in holiday tournaments. How has Michigan gone this long without being ranked? They look as good as anyone. Nick and EJ are learning how to make themselves available for dump offs. We are even making a few post passes. A win is a win, but we go into cruise control at the end of games. Thankfully, there wasn’t another 5 minutes left against the Blazers. We only have one more Popcorn State game left and then we are going to take some lumps in December. We don’t seem to be learning much from these cupcake teams, maybe a couple of losses against better teams will get this team on track.

    1. Hasta La Vista…just in case.

  3. Brooks is coming on and I can hardly wait for Allen…personally enjoy witnessing the overall player development…good group of players.

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