November 18, 2015 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)
Three-Guard Lineup proves difference as Kentucky defeats Duke
College Basketball finally arrived Tuesday Night (Nov. 17) as the Champions Classic in Chicago, Illinois brought four of the premier programs together as apart of the 2015-2016 Tip-Off Marathon. In the first of two games, featured two top five teams in the No. 2 ranked Kentucky Wildcats vs. defending national champion No. 5 Duke Blue-Devils. The next two games between No. 4 ranked Kansas Jayhawks vs the No. 13 ranked Michigan State Spartans would take place immediately afterwards.
Kentucky’s (3-0) early season schedule included a pair of wins over Albany and NJIT while Duke (2-1) scored easy wins over the Siena Saints and the Bryant Bulldogs. On Tuesday, the Wildcats three-guard lineup would prove to be the difference in defeating the Blue Devils 74-63 in front of a sold-out United Center. The guard play of Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, and Isaiah Briscoe combined for 46 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists to only 4 turnovers.
“We got good guards.” said Calipari after the game. “If we learn to fight, this is going to be a fun year.” “If we don’t fight then were going to expect our guards to rebound, we can’t expect the guards to rebound.”
The Wildcats first nine points were either scored or assisted by the Kentucky’s guards, but it was Duke’s center Marshall Plumlee’s offensive rebounding in the first few minutes that kept the Blue-Devils in the game with the score tied at 9-9 with 15:44 remaining in the 1st half. Most of Duke’s 7-4 offensive rebounding edge was due to the Wildcats not being physical on screens and missing blocking out assignments. As Marcus Lee (10 points, 10 rebounds), and Alex Poythress ( 9 points, 7 rebounds) began to fight on the boards, the Wildcats were able to create a little breathing room after the Tyler Ulis layup expanded the lead to 31-24 with 3:01 remaining in the 1st half. Duke’s Grayson Allen who had a total of 54 points in his first two games, was held scoreless in the first as the Blue-Devils trailed Kentucky 33-27 at the end of the half.
“Marcus and Alex both played well, and Skal didn’t play that bad he just got in foul trouble.” said Coach Calipari. ” The game got a little rough and he (Skal) wasn’t ready for it, but you see him score, you see him get baskets, he’s going to be really good.
Coming out of the locker room Kentucky got off to a great start scoring off of easy transitions baskets and scoring 17 of its 21 points in the paint. Skal Labissiere’s layup in the paint extended the Kentucky lead to nine at the 16:00 mark of the 2nd half at 45-36. Skal would never be a factor in the game picking up his 4th foul at the 9:15 mark with Kentucky up 57-45. Labissiere would finished the game with 7 points and 4 rebounds. After falling behind, Duke kept trying to cut into the lead with the brilliant 16 point 15 rebound effort from senior Amile Jefferson, but the Wildcats backcourt continue to find every answer to cruise to the 74-63 victory.
POINTS OF TURNOVERS – KENTUCKY 17, DUKE 5
POINTS IN THE PAINT – KENTUCKY 48, DUKE 30
FAST BREAK POINTS – KENTUCKY 18, DUKE 4
3PT FG% – KENTUCKY (3-10) 30%, DUKE (5-13) 38.9%
TURNOVERS – KENTUCKY 9, DUKE 16
REBOUNDS – KENTUCKY 39, DUKE 39
FG% – KENTUCKY (30-67) 44.8%, DUKE (22-54) 40.7%
FREE-THROWS – KENTUCKY 11-18 for 61%, DUKE 14-23 for 60%