Duke 75, Kentucky 68 (FINAL): And it came down to free throws. And Duke hit enough to win. Thornton received the first foul and put home two free throws, after which Plumlee was forced to commit his fifth foul on a Goodwin drive. Curry, as usual, was ice from the line on the ensuing sequence, putting Duke back up 72-64 with 30 seconds remaining and putting the game essentially out of reach.
Kelly capped off the Duke scoring with a fastbreak slam, putting the exclamation point on the victory.
Duke 68, Kentucky 63 (1:03 second half): After an extended drought for the Blue Devils, Curry nailed two smooth free throws to give his team some breathing room. After Poythress brought the game within three, Curry again stepped up, putting home a layup.
Duke 64, Kentucky 61 (3:20 second half): Everybody knew the Kentucky comeback would come, and so it did. After a Julius Mays 3-pointer, the Wildcats pulled within five points. Archie Goodwin followed that up a couple possessions later witha layup, after which the Blue Devils called a time out, their lead down to three points.
The Kentucky fans have been getting louder and louder all half—it all really began with the most acrobatic play of the night, an Alex Poythress put-back slam that the Georgia Dome went nuts over.
Duke 58, Kentucky 48 (8:51 second half): Duke still holds a 10-point lead, but the Kentucky fans are excited after Krzyzewski just called a timeout following a Wildcat steal and fastbreak, capped up with a Wiltjer slam.
Sulaimon continues to provide a second-half offensive spark, nailing his third trey.
Duke 54, Kentucky 42 (11:29 second half): With Mason Plumlee sitting out after picking up his fourth foul, Duke has stepped to pick up their benched leader, going on a run and taking the first double-digit lead of the game. Plumlee has spent the past few minutes on the bench, but still leads Duke with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Hairston has seen the bulk of the minutes in his stead and has not been afraid to be physical. He even made two contribution on the offensive end, putting home two offensive rebounds.
In Plumlee's absence, Curry has become more aggressive on the offensive end, attacking the hole on numerous possessions. He now has 13 points, second most on the team.
Also, give credit to Sulaimon—after an ugly first half going 0-of-7 from the field, he has two treys in the second half. He also leads Duke with five rebounds and five assists.
Duke 43, Kentucky 37 (16:47 second half): Duke picked up the first half right where it left off, feeding Plumlee, who dropped another two points. Kentucky, on the other hand, is coming out with a different look, showing a full court press against the Blue Devils.
Giving Duke it's margin right now in this half though, is 3-point shooting. After Sulaimon recorded his first field goal of the game, a stroke from beyond the arc, Cook followed that up with a trey.
Duke 33, Kentucky 31 (HALFTIME): Think Duke's seniors want to send a message?
Although Kentucky earned an early lead, Plumlee, Curry and Kelly would not oblige for the rest of the half. Despite two early fouls that clearly frustrated him, Plumlee finished the half with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He went 4-of-4 from the foul line. Yes, you're reading that correctly.
And while Duke was struggling on the offensive end early in the half, Curry consistently gave the Blue Devils jolts of life with his shooting, hitting three early 3-pointers. He finished the half with nine points.
Kelly, on the other hand, was dominant on the defensive end. Like Plumlee, he picked up two quick fouls, but that did not deter him from being physical on the defensive end. He had three blocks, letting Wiltjer and Noel that they would not be having their way down there.
The other star for Duke has been Quinn Cook. Coming off the bench, he has four points and two assists, but that doesn't do justice to what he has done for the offense. After the Blue Devils looked sluggish in the early going, what he has done for the pace and offensive mojo has been phenomenal for Coach K. He played almost all of the first half after sitting out the first few minutes—even if he doesn't start the second half, he will likely be the first sub in.
Other notable halftime stats: Two minutes for Alex Murphy, Sulaimon 0-of-7 from the field, Duke 12-of-30 from the field but 4-of-11 from deep.
Duke 33, Kentucky 31 (1:00 first half): Kentucky was able to get back into the game with Nerlens Noel doing work in the paint and earning his chances at the charity stripe. He has eight points, four of which are from the line.
But Duke maintained its lead on the back of Cook, who notched two straight buckets. The second of those was on a fastbreak with Rasheed Sulaimon hitting him in transition for a nifty layup. Cook looks extremely comfortable when the ball is pushed, and Duke has looked solid when they've gotten moving down the court.
Duke 28, Kentucky 23 (3:55 first half): Get this—Plumlee is 4-of-4 from the free throw line. He has spent a lot of time calling the ball in his career, and now late in this half he is finally getting it. He has made the most of his chances, taking this game over with 14 points so far on 5-of-7 shooting.
The prettiest of them came on a drive from Cook, who hit him with an unbelievable behind-the-head no-look pass.
Cook has done wonders for this offense since subbing in. He has not left the game and the offensive flow has been phenomenal with him running things.
Kelly, who is back in the game with two fouls, has been a defensive force with three blocks.
Duke 19, Kentucky 21 (7:48 first half): Curry and Plumlee are keeping Duke in this offensively. Curry leads Duke with nine points, all on 3-pointers.
Kelly picked up his second foul, after which Plumlee checked back in with two of his own. To say this game has gotten physical might bean understatement, Plumlee has looked quite frustrated with some of the calls and is now doing some shoving of his own.
Again, he also showed his offensive versatility, banking in a 15-foot jumpshot. He has eight points
Duke 14, Kentucky 15 (10:05 first half): On Duke's first possession with Plumlee out of the game with two fouls, the difference showed immediately with Noel throwing home a slam.
Kelly showed that Duke won't just give up on the post though—he registered a nifty block on Wiltjer and layed the ball home on the next possession. Curry followed that up with a trey of his own, forcing Calipari to call the first timeout of the game.
Duke 9, Kentucky 13 (11:55 first half): The big news: two fouls for Mason Plumlee. He was livid about both calls.
After the first break, Kentucky made a push to take four-point lead and getting the crowd into it. First Poythress put the ball in the hole with a physical take against Plumlee, and Mays followed that up with a pull-up jumper from the foul line.
And, Alex Murphy saw his first minutes of the year—his length is much needed against Poythress and this lengthy Wildcat squad. He and Quinn Cook were Duke's first subs, taking the place of Thornton and Curry. Murphy should be rewarded with more minutes for his effort out there. He hit the deck at least twice chasing loose balls, earning one of them back for Duke.
Mason Plumlee picked up his first foul of the game on a post move from Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky's 7-foot freshman. Plumlee was upset by the call and avenged it on the other end on the next possession. Plumlee later showed off his developed offensive game, taking a ball from the perimeter to the hole, earning the foul. On the ensuing possession however, he was called for an off-the-ball foul as he jockeyed for position with Nerlens Noel for position. He leads the Blue Devils with six points.
Looking for a physical presence in the post, Josh Hairston subbed in as well, before Amile Jefferson who has seen two minutes of action.
Duke 5, Kentucky 5 (15:58 first half): Duke won the tip and after Rasheed Sulaimon missed a 3-pointer and got his own rebound, he found Mason Plumlee for an open slam. Plumlee asserted himself on the first two possessions, blocking Noel on the other end.
The Wildcats then battled back with some success getting to the line—after being pushed around at points by Maryland in their opener, Kentucky has looked physical and aggressive.
And for all the talk of Ryan Kelly's ability to stretch defenses from the PF position, Kyle Wiltjer showed he can do just that with a 3-pointer of his own, responding to a Seth Curry trey.
Neither team has subbed yet.
Duke: G Tyler Thornton, G Seth Curry, G Rasheed Sulaimon, F Ryan Kelly, F Mason Plumlee
Kentucky: G Jarrod Polson, G Archie Goodwin, F Alex Poythress, F Kyle Tiltjer, F Nerlens Noel
Good evening folks, we're awaiting thethe tipoff of Duke vs. Kentucky basketball at the Georgia Dome. The game was scheduled for 9:30 p.m., though with the Kansas-Michigan State game ending at 9:14, a 9:45 start seems more realistic.
Kentucky was first to take the floor, with the Wildcats receiving a thunderous applause from the fans. The Blue Devils followed shortly after to a loud chorus of boos. With Kansas, Duke and Kentucky fans all blue, it's tough to estimate the exact fan breakdown but it's easy to say it certainly favors the Wildcats.
Marshall Plumlee, sidelined since the beginning of the year, is still wearing a boot on his left foot. But he's doing his part in the warmups, rebounding and passing the ball to shooters.
In dramatic fashion, the Spartans eked out a 67-64 win in the first game of the Champions Classic.
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