Recap of the Champions Classic

What we Learned from Tuesday’s Games

Tuesday was a tale of two games. Duke outlasted Michigan State winning 88-81 in a back and forth battle between the nation’s two best teams, while Kansas won an ugly, up-and-down turnover plagued game over Kentucky 65-61.

NCAA Basketball: Grand Canyon at Duke
USA Today

Duke had the best performance of the night and solidified why they were ranked #1 in all of the preseason polls. The Blue Devils overcame an eye injury to star freshman Marvin Bagley III and pulled away from Michigan State behind 37 points from Grayson Allen. Trevon Duval continued his hot start as he facilitated the offense, dishing out 10 assists on only 3 turnovers. As a freshman, he could be the best point guard in the country. With the PK80 coming up, Duke will be tested, but they look like they can beat anyone in the country, even if Bagley is injured.

The Blue Devils return to action at 7pm on Friday, November 17 at Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on the Southern Jaguars.

If Michigan State wants to meet with Duke again in San Antonio, they will need more from National Player of the Year Candidate Miles Bridges who only scored 19 points compared to Allen’s 37 for the Blue Devils. Although he was better in the second half, Bridges made only three shots in the first 20 minutes of action. Freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. played well against the Blue Devils with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks to support Bridges. Nick Ward added 19 points as well, but the Spartans will need more production from the bench moving forward.

The Spartans will play host to the Stony Brook Seawolves on Sunday, November 19 at 4pm at the Breslin Student Events Center.

With only seven available scholarship players, Kansas held off the young Kentucky Wildcats. Kansas overcame this as 4-of-5 starters scored double figures. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk led the way with 17 points and Kentucky had no answer defensively for the big man Udoka Azubuike, who finished with 13 points and 8 boards. Kansas shot only 35.3% from the field for the game. Devonte Graham, who was good for 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting, admitted after the game that he was unhappy with his performance Tuesday night. Kansas will need to shoot the ball better moving forward. The Jayhawks are hoping to get freshman Billy Preston in the lineup, but he will remain suspended until an investigation over the car he crashed Saturday night is closed.

Next up for the Jayhawks is a date with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at 8pm on Friday, November 17 at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

John Calipari’s Kentucky “Kittens” has a lot to work on based on their performance against the Jayhawks. After coming back to defeat Utah Valley and narrowly defeating Vermont, it could be a pleasant surprise that Kentucky was as close as they were to Kansas at the end of the game. Kentucky struggled on the defensive glass and lacks 3 point shooting, both of which will not win you many games in today’s college basketball. Kentucky will need to rely on the strengths of their young guns to win games this year. They need to play good defense and get and get to the basket in transition. Kentucky has a lot of length and rebounding should come along as the team gets used to playing at the college level. Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo led the way with 20 points and 14 points respectively. Sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones, who played sparingly last year, added 8 points and 9 rebounds off the bench. If he can produce, he could be an X-factor for the Wildcats moving forward.

Kentucky will take on the East Tennessee State Buccaneers on Friday, November 17 at 7pm at Rupp Arena.

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