CHICAGO — Loud chants of “GO BIG BLUE!” rang throughout the United Center as No. 2 Kentucky wrapped up its third win of the season, this one a convincing 74-63 victory over No. 5 Duke.
The Wildcats did not trail in the final 28:37 as Duke star Greyson Allen (six points on 2-for-11 shooting) struggled mightily and the interior defense (30 points allowed in the paint) did its job.
The turning point: Isaac Humphries found Jamal Murray for an open three to make it 69-55 with 4:46 to go. Charles Matthews dove for a loose ball on the other end, and Tyler Ulis was able to cash in on a tough drive down the lane for the largest lead of the night.
MVP: Ulis. The sophomore point guard returned to the city where he played high school ball and turned in a commanding performance (18 points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals) while playing all but two minutes. A pair of drives to the hole late in the second half helped Kentucky seal the deal.
Memorable moment: The Wildcats led, 27-24, late in the first half when Isaiah Briscoe launched an alley-oop pass from half court. Marcus Lee took care of things on the back end with a two-handed slam, setting off the crowd at United Center. Shortly thereafter, Lee finished a Tyler Ulis lob with a reverse jam.
Cleaning up the glass: Kentucky started its preseason three-guard lineup (Ulis, Murray and Briscoe) for the first time … Duke’s first nine points came from Marshall Plumlee, who used four offensive rebounds to terrorize the Wildcats early … Lee (10 points, 10 rebounds) recorded his first career double-digit rebound game and first career double double … He fouled out with 5:55 to go.
Up next: No. 2 Kentucky vs. Wright State on Friday, Nov. 20, at Rupp Arena.