The Kentucky Wildcats’ swarming defense made up for their sloppy offense on Friday night as the Wildcats held on to defeat the Duquesne Dukes, 77-52. The competition was hefty early on but Kentucky pulled away in the final 10 minutes with a 31-17 run.
Giveaways were an issue for the Wildcats and allowed Duquesne to remain in the game, but Kentucky forced the Dukes in to 11 turnovers themselves while also blocking 11 shots and altering several others.
The Wildcats have shown they can shoot the ball from deep and attack the hoop inside, but it appears they’ll hang their hat on defense this season.
Kentucky travels to Indianapolis next week for their matchup with Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic. The two programs will face each other in the first of two games with Duke and Kansas to follow. Tip-off on Tuesday night is set for. 7 pm ET.
Kentucky was still missing Oscar Tshiebwe and Daimion Collins but did see Sahvir Wheeler make his regular-season debut. Wheeler was exceptional, recording a double-double of 11 points and 11 assists while committing just two turnovers. He also added six rebounds.
Having their veteran point guard back on the floor was a positive sign for Kentucky, especially for Wheeler to find a rhythm ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
Antonio Reeves once again handled the scoring load with 18 points on an efficient 5-9 shooting and CJ Fredrick was right there with him, scoring 14 points while also making five of his nine shot attempts. Both players his shots late in the game to assist the Wildcats in pulling away from the Dukes, but Wheeler’s performance Friday night stood out the most.