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Nate Sestina has breakout game in close loss to Buckeyes

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Perhaps the biggest bright spot from UK’s two games in Vegas.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 21 CBS Sports Classic - Ohio State v Kentucky Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats were downed in Las Vegas by the No. 5-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, resulting in their third loss of the season and their second in a row after losing to Utah on Wednesday.

It was a close game all throughout, and it was thanks to fifth-year senior Nick Sestina. The Bucknell grad transfer made his return to action against Utah, failing to log a point in ten minutes of action.

That wasn’t the case against the Buckeyes though.

Sestina came out hot, scoring a team-high 17 points. He joined Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans as the only Wildcats in double figures. It was a complete effort from Sestina who pulled down four rebounds and dished out one assist as well.

It was his season high, and it was just an all-around fundamental performance, showcasing a top-tier IQ of how to thrive in Coach Cal’s offense.

Sestina had five threes on a mere eight attempts, a solid 62.5% from downtown. Coming off the bench, Sestina played well with Hagans and Maxey, rolling off the pick-and-rolls into wide-open three-point attempts. He was just 3-for-13 from deep into the matchup.

Outside of those three and Immanuel Quickley, the Wildcats didn’t have a player score over five points, and that one was reason Sestina’s big night wasn’t able to be capped off with a victory in Vegas.

Moving forward, Sestina has earned big minutes.

In his six games prior to his injury, Sestina was averaging 27.7 minutes. With this breakout performance, he’ll certainly start to eat into Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery’s minutes, the team’s two starting bigs who combined for six total points.

Coach Calipari has to do something to get more production from his frontcourt. On top of that, Cal has noted that the team need more three-point shooting, and shooting 5-for-8 from three is exactly what the head coach ordered.

The Wildcats were in the game with in the final minutes because Sestina’s terrific play, and it’ll likely be rewarded in the coming future.