For the Buccaneers, the season is still early, but this past Friday night they may have faced their toughest challenge of the season.

The Bucs traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, to take on the No. 7 Kentucky Wildcats in a matchup that was nationally televised. The Bucs are no stranger to playing in the national spotlight.

Before the game, Head Coach Steve Forbes discussed the benefits that ETSU receives from playing such a major program.

“We’re going to get really good exposure, and I think it gives our players an opportunity to play on a big stage,” said Forbes. “It gives us a chance to see how we measure up against one of the top teams and top programs in the country.”

Playing in a nationally televised game is also a key way for ETSU to gain exposure and this, in turn, helps to attract recruits from all over the country.

Considering the fact this game will most likely be the biggest game of the year for the Bucs, one has to question the mindset of the players.

“I want to play with no fear, play aggressive and play really hard,” said Forbes. “I don’t want to go up there and be tentative and get caught up in the moment and just go out there and play.”

As the game began, the Bucs went toe to toe with the Wildcats and traded punches throughout most of the first half. Heading into halftime, the Bucs trailed Kentucky by only 6 points with a score of 36-30.

When the second half began, Kentucky stepped it up a notch and the Bucs were not able to keep up.

The Bucs fell to Kentucky 78-61 to bring their overall record to 1-2 on the season.

Senior Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) led in scoring for the Bucs with 17 points on just eight attempts. Teammate Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tennessee) led in assists with six and Mladen Armus (Belgrade, Serbia) led in rebounds with nine.

The Bucs play their home opener Monday night against Delaware State. After coming off another tough loss, the Bucs will look to get back in the win column.

This may not have been the start that the Bucs were wanting this season, but there is still a lot of basketball to be played.