Kentucky comeback falls shot in 75-68 loss to Duke

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 14, 2012
Kentucky still has some growing up to do. But, hey, it's only November. Rallying furiously, the third-ranked Wildcats nearly wiped out a 14-point deficit in the second half but came up short against No. 9 Duke. The defending champs lost 75-68 Tuesday night in the first matchup between the storied programs since 2001. Seth Curry scored 23 points for the Blue Devils, who relied heavily on their experience to hold off coach John Calipari's latest group of stellar freshmen. Even so, Calipari actually sounded happier about the way his kids played in a loss than he did after their season-opening win over Maryland. ''We're getting better,'' he said. ''We were better than we were against Maryland. This team just had some seniors. But we had a chance.'' Calipari scanned the scoresheet and was happy with the way the shots were spread around. Among the starters, everyone had between five and 12 attempts. ''That's pretty good. They're sharing,'' he said. ''What they don't understand us how hard they have to play every possession, how a minute and a half can cost you a game. They don't know it yet. It's never been important to them. Our job is to teach them. We've got to get them in stronger shape mentally and physically.'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski likes the mix of his team. ''Veterans and talent,'' he said. ''Now, I wouldn't mind having some of their guys. And I'm sure they would like to have some of our guys.'' Duke (2-0) appeared to be in control, even with Mason Plumlee on the bench in foul trouble. The Blue Devils ripped off a 13-3 run, capped by Rasheed Sulaimon's 3-pointer that made it 58-44 with 9 1/2 minutes remaining. But Kentucky (1-1) wasn't done, rallying like the defending champ even though this is essentially a whole new team in Calipari's one-and-done system. The Wildcats outscored Duke 17-6 over the next six minutes and actually had a chance to tie it. Julius Mays missed a 3-pointer with the Blue Devils clinging to a 64-61 lead. Curry, a senior guard, made sure youthful Kentucky didn't get any closer. He blew past Archie Goodwin on a drive - using a pump fake to get by the freshman guard - that essentially clinched the win. Alex Poythress led Kentucky with 20 points, while Nerlens Noel and Goodwin added 16 apiece. All are freshmen, showing this team has plenty of room to grow before tournament time. Poythress is already quite a player, soaring over the Blue Devils for at several dunks, including a thunderous one-handed slam off a missed jumper by Mays. Kentucky's ultimate goal is a return trip to ''Cat-Lanta'' - and two more games in the Georgia Dome, site of this season's Final Four. In the first game of a doubleheader featuring four of the country's best programs, No. 21 Michigan State knocked off No. 7 Kansas 67-64. ''This was a big game for these guys,'' Calipari said. ''They were in Vegas playing AAU ball four months ago.'' Calipari wasn't happy with his team's effort against Maryland - especially on the boards. They were outrebounded 54-38 by the Terrapins, including 28 at the offensive end. That was simply unacceptable given Kentucky's vaunted frontcourt featuring the 6-foot-10 Noel and 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein. Rebounding wasn't as much of an issue this time - Duke finished with a 31-30 edge - but the experienced Blue Devils showed a bit more poise down the stretch. ''Nerlens played way more aggressive than he did against Maryland,'' Calipari said. ''When we got it to three I said, `We're going to win this.' They just made their free throws.'' After Duke let Kentucky back in the game by continuing to put up errant jumpers, Curry finally changed things up. He gave a slight fake and took off for the hoop with just over 2 minutes remaining, forcing Goodwin to grab him by the arm. The senior knocked down both ends of the one-and-one, pushing Duke to a 66-61 lead with 2:04 remaining. Poythress gave the Wildcats a semblance of hope, putting back a missed shot, but Curry blew by Goodwin again for a layin that made it 68-63 with 1:13 left and essentially sealed it. Calipari called a timeout and screamed at Goodwin as the freshman walked toward the bench. In the final minute, Curry added two more free throws to help finish off the Wildcats. Kentucky still must address the same point guard questions it had before the opener. Sophomore transfer Ryan Harrow has been suffering from flu-like symptom and didn't even make the trip to Atlanta, ruining a chance to impress the home folks. He played his high school ball in suburban Marietta. Mays, a graduate student, started in place of Harrow but had only seven points and three assists. Calipari said he shouldn't have played Harrow against Maryland. As it was, the guard was only able to go 10 minutes. Now, while the team awaits the results of blood tests, the coach vowed not to play him again until he's fully recovered. ''He said he could go, but he wasn't ready,'' Calipari said. ''We need to get him healthy.'' --- Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The most unhealthy breakfasts from across the country
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Aroldis Chapman signs with Yankees

Le’Veon Bell thinks Giants were trying to hurt him

White Sox trade Adam Eaton to Nationals for haul of impressive prospects

Looking at NFL injuries that could impact the Super Bowl chase

Report: RG3 to start Sunday barring health setback

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Major changes could be coming to the World Cup in 2026

Peterson planning to return if Vikings stay in playoff hunt

Desmond’s deal with Rockies is puzzling, opens door for trades

Report: ‘Well has been poisoned’ for Lane Kiffin as USF candidate

Johnny Manziel tells Lamar Jackson not to go to Browns

NCAA president on Penn State: ‘How could you not be pleased?’

TailGreater: Tips for bowl travelers

Ranking the single-player modes of the 2017 sports games

Box Score 12/7: The date we got to know Bo

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 2: News, notes and rumors

Ten most intriguing non-NY6 bowl games

Breaking down the NFL playoff picture heading into Week 14

The best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

The five must-have sports games of 2016

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 1: News, notes and rumors

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

Box Score 12/6: Klay Thompson and the ball of fire

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

TailGreater: Tips for bowl travelers

Ranking the single-player modes of the 2017 sports games

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 2: News, notes and rumors

The five best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

The five must-have sports games of 2016

Winter Meetings report, Day 1: News, notes and rumors

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL Christmas sweaters)

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker