Backcourt Mismatch Too Much To Overcome For Duke Against UK

The key to success in college basketball begins with strong backcourt play.  A season ago Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook led the Blue Devils to 35 wins and a title.  On Tuesday night in Chicago the Blue Devils had front row seats to what looks like the nation’s top backcourt as Kentucky beat Duke 74-63 in the Champions Classic.

Tyler Ulis had 18 points to go along with six assists and Jamal Murray scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half to lead Kentucky past Duke, 74-63.  The Wildcats forced 16 Duke turnovers and controlled the pace of the game, out-scoring the Blue Devils 18-4 in fast break points.   

Duke led for just five seconds all night, and spent most of the contest searching for any sort of offense.  Unfortunately it was nowhere to be found as the team’s leading scorer, Grayson Allen, was held to just six points on 2-of-11 shooting from the floor.  

The sophomore who had scored 54 points in the season’s first two games was consistently stopped on drives to the basket and struggled mightily against Kentucky’s front court.  After being blocked four times in the first half, Allen finally scored his first basket with just over 12 minutes left in the second half on a 3-pointer from the corner off a Derryck Thornton drive.

Allen wasn’t the only Blue Devil struggling either.  Freshman Brandon Ingram scored just four points and finished 1-of-6 from the floor.  As a team Duke shot only 40.7 percent from the floor, 38.5 percent from the perimeter, and 60.9 percent from the free throw line.  

With the youth and the backcourt struggling, Mike Krzyzewski’s squad got a big boost inside from Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson.  Plumlee finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocks while Jefferson recorded his third straight double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. 

Kentucky’s win was the first in four tries against Duke which had won the previous three match-ups including the most recent game in the Champions Classic.   

The Blue Devils drop to 2-1 overall and will return to action on Friday in New York against Virginia Commonwealth in the 2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project.  The game will tip off at 7:30 PM EST and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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