The Kentucky Wildcats fell short in their season opener against the Duke Blue Devils on Tuesday night in a 79-71 loss in the Champions Classic.
This was a back-and-forth game most of the night, but it was the Blue Devils that continued to hold the slight edge as they took a 39-35 lead into halftime.
The Cats had an outstanding start to the second half as back-to-back layups by Oscar Tshiebwe followed by a big three from Keion Brooks gave Kentucky a 42-41 lead.
With Kentucky leading 46-45, a stretch of roughly eight minutes came that saw Duke go from down 1 to up 15 as they led it 69-54 with 9:22 left in the game.
However, this Kentucky team showed that they are never going to stop fighting as they began to claw their way back into the game and with six minutes remaining, they had made it a 69-65 ballgame.
Unfortunately, the Cats couldn’t bring it all the way back, as the Blue Devils made the necessary plays down the stretch to come away with the narrow victory.
Tshiebwe was without a doubt the MVP of the night for Kentucky, as he finished with 17 points, 19 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal, and an assist.
It was also a good performance from Sahvir Wheeler, who finished with 16 points, 10 assists, and a steal. He did, however, turn the ball over seven times, but five of those came later in the second half. Coach Cal even took the blame for that, saying he shouldn’t have played Wheeler 38 minutes in the first game.
Overall, it was a rough shooting night for Kentucky, as they finished 29/77 (37.7%), but it was the close shots they seemed to have the most trouble with, as they shot an impressive 7/18 (38.9%) from three.
That eight-minute stretch in the second half proved to be the difference, but it was still a performance that should have the BBN excited about what we are going to see this season.
With that being said, how would you grade Kentucky’s performance against Duke? Let us know in the poll below and in the comments section!
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