This wasn’t the game anyone expected. The early season battle between basketball powerhouses Duke and Kentucky in this year’s State Farm Champions Classic was supposed to a high flying, nail biting, thriller. Instead it was a tale of Big Blue over Duke Blue as Kentucky beat the Devils 74-63.
This certainly wasn’t the same Duke squad that put up 113 points against Sienna. The Blue Devils’ offensive leaders Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram struggled mightily – combining for only ten total points. And the Wildcats’ backcourt made Duke look like amateurs.
After the game, Coach K talked about how Kentucky played tougher than his squad and the Wildcats’ talented guards Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray.
Ulis and Murray are strong, good guards Ulis played a great game. Six assists, no turnovers, 18 points. There aren’t many guys out there like him. He really takes control of the game and Murray’s a man. He’s played in big-time competition. I thought they were stronger than we were and when someone’s playing that strong, you have to come back with that type of effort and strength and I don’t think we did.
Although fans thought of this as the second best thing to the National Championship matchup everyone one was rooting for last season, John Calipari said he prepared from this game like any other.
We did not approach this game any different than we approached NJIT. This is one game. If we lose to Wright State people in Kentucky will say I should be fired. We’ll enjoy this win on the plane ride and that’s it.
But the fact of the matter is, this wasn’t just another game. This was Kentucky and Duke. Whether it’s in the Final Four in April or November’s State Farm Champions classic, the history of this rivalry always means it will be a big one. We’re far from knowing whether these two teams will meet in March, and if they do they’ll both be much different than what we saw tonight. But at least for the time being, Kentucky faithful will retain bragging rights in the one of the best rivalries in college hoops.
Numbers Don’t Lie:
10 – Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram’s combined point total.
0 – The number of turnovers Tyler Ulis had.
17 – The number of points Kentucky had off turnovers.
4 – The number of fastbreak points Duke had.
Duke has two days to lick their wounds from Tuesday night’s game before they play a VCU squad that is not to be slept on. Kentucky plays Wright State on Friday.