Takeaways from Kentucky’s media availability Thursday previewing Friday night’s men’s basketball game against Eastern Kentucky:
1. Tyrese Maxey said he’s fine with coming off the bench. He said he wants to fill whatever role UK Coach John Calipari assigns. When was the last time he did not start? “Uh, never,” he said.
2. Calipari said graduate transfer Nate Sestina can be considered a player/coach. “He can coach,” Calipari said before quipping, “as long as they pay me.” During the game against Michigan State, Sestina and walk-on Riley Welch sounded like coaches on the bench, reminding teammates on the court how many more “stops” they needed to reach a “kill.” A “kill” is three consecutive “stops.”
3. Maxey and another freshman, Cole Anthony of North Carolina, congratulated each other via social media after eye-catching debuts.
4. After its game Tuesday, Bucknell was watching Kentucky play Michigan State on the bus ride home, Calipari said. When Sestina, a Bucknell grad, made a three-pointer as a trailer midway through the second half to put UK ahead by 13, the bus had to pull over in order to prevent the celebration from interfering with safe driving.
5. Eastern Kentucky plays an up-tempo style it dubs “the fastest 40 minutes in sports.” EKU’s pace and constant pressing will be something new for many UK players to experience. If EKU slows the tempo, it won’t be the first surprise for this UK team. UK expected Kentucky State to play man-to-man defense. But Kentucky State played 2-3 zone. “If you think we looked confused, we were confused,” Calipari said.
Eastern Kentucky at No. 2 Kentucky
When: 7 p.m.
TV: SEC Network
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1
Records: Eastern Kentucky 1-0, Kentucky 1-0
Series: Kentucky leads 12-0
Last meeting: Kentucky won 88-67 on Dec. 9, 2015, in Lexington.