UK Guards Score 46, Lead ‘Cats to 74-63 Win Over Duke
Kentucky fans likely won't ever forget that 1998 Regional Final when the Wildcats came roaring back from 17 down to beat Duke on their way to the school's 7th national title.
That was the last time the 'Cats beat the Blue Devils until Tuesday night in Chicago at the Champions Classic when a group of mature-beyond-their-years guards led #2 Kentucky to a 74-63 victory over 5th-ranked Duke.
Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis led all scorers with 18 and showed that he absolutely can be a closer for Kentucky as the season wears on.
Freshmen Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe poured in 16 and 12, respectively for UK, while junior forward Marcus Lee put up a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) before fouling out.
Senior Alex Poythress came off the bench to score 9, while heralded freshman Skal Labissiere finished with 7 points and 5 fouls.
It seemed like Labissiere and Lee fouled out for wildly different reasons. The rookie from Haiti seemed a bit intimidated by the bright-lights-big-city atmosphere while the seasoned veteran was playing aggressively and just seemed to be in the officials' sights.
Duke's Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones each scored 16 points, with Marshall Plumlee (the 339th Plumlee to play for the Blue Devils, or so it seems) adding 12--including his team's first nine points.
I really can't say enough about Ulis, Murray, and Briscoe. They were aggressively going after every loose ball and doing EXACTLY what an excellent guard is supposed to do--leading his team.
John Calipari has been known for securing brilliant point guards over the years like Marcus Teague and Brandon Knight. But right now--and I know it's early--these three seem to have that extra jolt of steeliness that I felt was lacking in Teague and Knight, good as they were.
The 'Cats are off until Friday night when they host Wright State.