By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s never played in a Kentucky-Louisville game but grad transfer Nate Sestina has been at UK long enough now to know that Saturday’s game is not just another game.
“I try not to let my nerves get the best of me, but it’s a different game. It’s a national stage. When we played Lehigh and Colgate at home, that was a big game for us, it was on CBS Sports and we always got to play on national TV when we played those teams,” Sestina said.
“It’s kind of the same thing here. It’s an in-state battle that I had with Lehigh at Bucknell, an in-state battle. I just think it carries a little bit more weight because red and blue.”
A little bit more weight? Come on now Nate.
“Everybody hates red here, so I think it carries a little bit more weight. But I’m going to try to stay calm and do my thing and play my game,” Sestina said.
Sestina broke his wrist in November but in his second game back last week against Ohio State hit five 3-pointers to provided a huge lift for UK even though the Cats still lost.
Louisville’s inside strength figures to be a huge problem for UK, especially with Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery both being prone to struggle against stronger, more physical players.
“Their four-man (Jordan Nwora) is incredible. He’s a good player, but so are our bigs. That’s one thing that everybody always talks about the other team and one thing I’m always going to do is talk about my teammates,” Sestina said.
“They have their players; we have ours. And we just have to be tough. We have to rebound, we have to box out. It’s going to be a chippy game, so we have to kind of stay away from all of that. But if we’re tough and we do the things we’ve been doing in practice the last couple of days, I think we’ll be good.”
Sestina said Friday afternoon that he got to experience the UK-Louisville intensity at dinner Thursday night at BJ’s in Lexington.
“Everybody who was in there was like, ‘Win Saturday, win Saturday, win Saturday,’ so it’s obviously a big deal for everybody here and it’s a big deal for us, too,” Sestina said. “But I’m trying my best to just let all that stuff go and just focus on us and not listen to anything outside of the team.
“And that’s not a dig at any of the fans or anything; it’s just that you kind of have to focus in on us because if you let outside stuff get in, it’s going to kind of disassemble the team and I don’t want that to happen.”