To quote Popeye...well blow me down! Who the hell saw that coming?
Duke was great, but Kentucky cannot possibly be that far behind the Blue Devils. Everything we heard from the summer trip to the islands suggested that this Kentucky team could be monstrously good and they still might be.
Duke blew their doors off and Wednesday morning, the college basketball world is going to be buzzing about what happened in Indy Tuesday night.
Let’s give this a bit of perspective by looking at Duke’s five exhibition games since August:
- Duke 86 Ryerson 67 (33)
- Duke 96 Toronto 60 (36)
- Duke 103 McGill 58 (45)
- Duke 106 Virginia Union 64 (42)
- Duke 132 Ferris State 48 (84)
Ryerson gave Duke a closer game than Kentucky did.
And the thing is that despite the eye-popping performance by Duke’s freshmen, youth did show.
Duke was up by about 30, but Duke did show that it has some things to work on: with a big lead, various guys started to freelance and gave Kentucky a chance to get back into it.
Cardinal sin at Duke and you can believe Coach K noticed and the message was received and intensity returned to normal.
And there was a potential problem in the middle because Javin DeLaurier picked up three early fouls and finished with four and Marques Bolden - who had one of his best games at Duke - matched him. So did Cam Reddish for that matter.
Foul troubles can derail any team.
Didn’t much matter against Kentucky though. Zion Williamson shot 11-13 for 28 and RJ Barrett finished 13-26 for 33. In his first game.
Reddish finished with 22.
They were all great, but you have to give it to Jack White as Captain Jack came off the bench to dominate the boards, pulling down 10.
White and Alex O’ Connell finished with nine each; Bolden seven and Tre Jones tossed in six.
Jones didn’t have a turnover and Duke - check this out - finished the game with just four turnovers to 22 assists. Kentucky had 15 turnovers for the game.
After the game Calipari said that Duke was talented enough to not run a lot of stuff, that Coach K just let them play to their strengths.
There’s a lot to that and keep this in mind too: this team has shown excellent chemistry so far and no one is unwilling to share the ball.
Competition is going to get stiffer but keep in mind that the scores will be a lot closer even though Duke should be playing much better.
This team has a lot of room to grow.
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