Written By: Michael McCarty/@mick_mccarty
#2 Kentucky 84 vs #4 Duke 118 Recap
Cats lose in embarrassing fashion
The only time this game was close was when the opening tip was happening. From the very start of the game Kentucky was outclassed in every aspect. We were able to learn some important facts about each team and how they will fare this season. I will start with Duke because quite frankly they deserve it.
Duke is the best team in college basketball and it is not close. The narrative that their opponents have had all off season about how there was no way to play three Small Forwards at the same time has proven false. As a fan of a program that has lived off of freshmen play I have never seen a group of freshmen look so composed and ready to play this early in a season. They have the best three players in college basketball with Williams, Reddish, and Barrett. The narrative that Duke has only four good players is not only false but does not matter. On any given night their big 3 are capable of scoring 80-100 points in a game. Their bench is good enough to give them some rest and hustle plays that will keep them in any game. If Duke shoots the ball the way they did against UK for the rest of the season they will win every game easily.
Kentucky has a lot of issues and that is a fact. We are not a horrible team, we have talented players, Calipari isn’t over rated, UK fans need to take a step back and breath. A fact is that we are not as talented as we thought we were. The way UK dominated in the Bahamas I thought showed that this was a dominant team. The reality is that this is a team that has no offensive identity and cannot guard the ball. The returning players that were supposed to provide leadership looked lost and confused. Quade Green had what was probably his worst game in a Kentucky uniform. He looked lost on offense forcing shots and could not guard anyone. PJ Washington did not come to play in beast mode, he showed up in kitten mode. The PJ that I thought could win SEC player of the year was unavailable for the Duke game. Sophomore Nick Richards reverted back to freshman Nick Richards and was innefective on both of the ends of the court.
Tyler Herro was trying to force his shot all game and it was not falling. Herro is a prolific scorer but when he was in the game UK tried to force offense through him and it didn’t work. Our freshmen point guards were not ready for the big stage. They played fast and out of control. Overall this is a team that came out and took a heavyweight shot and could not respond.
There were a couple bright spots for this team in Reed Travis and Keldon Johnson. Travis is every bit as good as expected. That man fought all game and is going to have one of the best seasons a UK big has had in a few years. I just hope he didn’t go to bed last night regretting his decision to come to UK over Duke. Keldon Johnson is a baller. Johnson does everything well and will be the most important player on this Kentucky team.
It’s literally the first game of the season so there is no reason to go into complete panic mode about this UK team. I do think we need to pull way back on the expectations. Kentucky is going to lose a lot of games while they figure this out. This can very well be a 10-loss team due to the strength of the schedule. At the end of the season I still believe this is a Kentucky team that can contend for a title. Unfortunately that might not matter if Duke plays every game like they did Tuesday night.