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Duke’s Experience Too Much for ‘Cats, But UK Has High Ceiling

I could practically hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth all the way up here in Owensboro. I’m sure the Kentucky Wildcat fans filing out of the Georgia Dome were hoping for a match-up other than the one that saw #9 Duke upend #3 UK 75-68 on a Tuesday evening in Atlanta.

And while it’s likely difficult for Big Blue Nation to see it immediately after the game’s conclusion, there’s plenty here to make the fans smile.

Duke is low on rookies. They have an experienced roster made up of seniors (Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly), juniors (Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston), and a sophomore (Quinn Cook) to go along with the freshmen (Amile Jefferson, Rasheed Sulaimon). And in early November, that kind of experience will always win out over youth.

And Kentucky has cornered the market this season.

But it’s freshman Alex Poythress’s 20 points and 8 rebounds; freshman Nerlens Noel’s 16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 blocks; and freshman Archie Goodwin’s 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists that should shine a light toward the end of a season-long tunnel. These ‘Cats will get so much better and better. Their upside is amazing.

Three things:

7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein was essentially a no-show and that can’t happen. Also, these guys have GOT to find Kyle Wiltjer very, very often. The Portland, Oregon sophomore is a lethal 3-point shooter and plays must be executed for him. And, finally they have to have a point guard. I’m not sure if it’s Ryan Harrow–who didn’t play because of the flu–but he’s got the job. We’ll see what happens.

Obviously, the comparisons to last season’s team must stop. That was a once-in-a-decade-if-not-more outfit that few schools will duplicate.

But this team will forge its own identity and give Big Blue Nation the kind of season it has come to expect.

Highlights–if you want ’em–are right here.

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