Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - An early season marquee matchup is on tap in
Atlanta, as the third-ranked Kentucky Wildcats take on the ninth-ranked Duke
Blue Devils as part of the Champions Classic.
The defending national champs had their hands full in their season-opener
against Maryland, holding off Maryland late to earn a hard-fought 72-69
victory. The game marked the collegiate debut of the nation's top recruit,
Nerlens Noel, although the youngster was overshadowed by sophomore Kyle
Wiltjer. John Calipari is known for getting the most out of his young rosters
and is expected to do it once again in 2012-13.
Mike Krzyzewski is the all-time winningest coach in the Division I level and
added his 928th victory with Duke's 74-55 blasting of Georgia State in the
season-opener in Durham last Friday.
These two historic programs haven't met since the 2001-02 season. Kentucky
owns an 11-8 series advantage, but Duke has closed the gap win wins in six of
the last seven meetings. Five of the matchups have occurred in the NCAA
Noel's first game in a Kentucky uniform was rather forgettable, as he finished
the game with just four points on 2-of-6 shooting. The youngster did lead the
team with nine rebounds, though. Wiltjer picked up the slack with 19 points,
thanks in large part to four three-pointers. Archie Goodwin knocked down 9-
of-11 from the charity stripe to add 16 points to the cause, while Jarrod
Polson came off the bench to tally a career-high 10 points in a career-high 22
minutes of work. Kentucky won the game, despite getting outrebounded by the
Terrapins, 54-38. Calipari lost all five starters from a year ago, four of
which were selected in the first-round of the NBA Draft, including the top two
picks, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. In fact, the Wildcats are the
only team from a major conference to not return a single player with at least
Duke can relate to Kentucky's plight, as the Blue Devils also came into the
season with some notable losses, as Miles Plumlee and Austin Rivers moved on
to the NBA, while Andre Dawkins has taken a leave of absence. In the season-
opening win over Georgia State, the Blue Devils showed they will be able to
assuage the losses, as the team shot a sterling .511 from the floor, including
an impressive 11-of-24 from behind the arc. Mason Plumlee dominated in the low
post, recording a double-double with team-highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Veteran guards Seth Curry and Tyler Thornton provided plenty of balance with
15 and 13 points, respectively. The pair combined for six three-pointers.
Despite losing the battle on the boards (33-31), Duke held Georgia State to a
mere .373 shooting effort and forced 16 turnovers.
The Sports Network