Duquesne’s hot shooting did not make the trip to Rupp Arena as the Dukes fell by a 77-52 count to #4 Kentucky Friday night.
Tre Clark led Duquesne with his 11 points, all of which came in the first half, while teammate Austin Rotroff scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench in 15 minutes.
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“We just haven’t been together long enough to win a game like that,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot stated. “You have to know when to score, when to slow it. You can’t get into a Kentucky Derby with them, they’re just too quick, fast and athletic, but you have to pick and choose your spots. We just weren’t quite mature enough at this point in the season. Overall, we competed hard. When you shoot 8-for-32 in the first half, that’s hard to overcome. You have to move ball against them and make them play a lot of defense in order to win.”
Duquesne (1-1) played 13 players, nine of whom achieved a double-figure point total. 12 of the 13 players were able to score and 10 grabbed at least one rebound.
Kentucky (2-0) saw Antonio Reeves lead the way with 18 points, while teammate CJ Fredrick added 14 points of his own.
Sahvir Wheeler achieved a double double with 11 points and 11 assists, for a Kentucky team which shot 45.9% from the field and 57.9% on three-point shots.
“By the middle of the season we will say we beat a good team,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “They’ve got good guys, they posted us up and did what they wanted at times.”
Kentucky had an 11-rebound advantage (46-35) and had the same positive margin in bench points (38-27). Fast break points also served as an advantage with the Wildcats prevailing 18-4 in that statistic.
As a team Kentucky recorded 22 assists on 28 made baskets.
Duquesne would score the game’s first points when Clark grabbed a turnover off of an errant pass and then converted a layup on the fastbreak.
After missing three of its starters a game ago, Kentucky struggled to get into a rhythm together and when Quincy McGriff split free throws, Duquesne was up by three points.
The Wildcats then got back into the game scoring the next seven points to regain composure heading into the opening media timeout.
Coming out of the stoppage, Duquesne made a substitution bringing Tevin Brewer into the game, his first action this season following complications from an appendectomy.
His early play saw him commit a couple of turnovers and he would finish with two points and as many assists. As he sees more game action, Brewer is expected to provide credibility in increasing Duquesne’s assist output.
“We wanted to get him out there to speed his process a little bit,” Dambrot said. “He played good considering he practiced only four days. Superman couldn’t have done better but just to be able to do that tells you about the man. We have to speed up his process if we want to compete.”
Another scratch in the last game, Andy Barba returned to the court later in the game after missing Tuesday’s action with an illness.
Meanwhile Duquesne was held without a field goal for nearly four minutes, as Kentucky began to assert its will.
This momentum was briefly stunted with Clark burying a jumper and R.J. Gunn coming off the bench, being challenged to take a wide-open three-point shot and burying it.
That allowed Duquesne to regain the edge for all of 11 seconds, when Ugonna Onyenso made a dunk and layup in consecutive possessions.
Duquesne remained in the fight as it matched timely stops with crucial baskets, which prevented Kentucky from creating too much separation.
Another cold skid, this time 4:15 of game action, saw Duquesne lack an ability to convert from the field, allowing the Wildcats to enjoy their first double-digit lead of the evening.
Duquesne went 2-for-17 from the field in the last 11:07 of the first half. Kentucky led 38-22 at halftime.
“They are huge around the rim and that’s a new experience,” said Dambrot. “Until you do it it’s hard to understand. Didn’t take good shots. Couple of our keys we didn’t guard the ball well and our shot selection wasn’t very good. Have to know when to play fast and play slow. We had chances and then we kind of did the same thing again.”
The Dukes returned to the court an inspired side in the second half as evidenced by 7-0 run, cutting their deficit to nine points as Kentucky suffered from another slow start.
Duquesne then went cold for another nearly five-minute period, going 0-for-7 in the process, a streak snapped by a Matus Hronsky three-point basket, as it reverted back to past behaviors.
Throughout the duration of the half, Duquesne had mini shooting slumps where it was unable to convert, but a 12-2 run, saw the lead eclipse 20 points. Duquesne briefly had one final rally where it strung five points together, but Kentucky’s advantage, more consistent play and depth won the evening.
“They have good guards and guys unafraid to be physical,” said Calipari. “We had two offensive rebounds at halftime and they got almost every 50-50 ball in the first half. Their guards are good. Keith is a hell of a coach. When you have good guards in college basketball, you’ve got a chance and they have good guards.”
This non-conference game is one of two road games on the slate with the other coming in a week against Colgate at Akron.
Duquesne will look to regroup Monday against South Carolina State and will have a light practice Saturday and go full on Sunday.
Its biggest hope is that Joe Reece, who suffered an injury in Friday’s contest can get healthy.
“It’s obvious it’s a hard place to win,” Dambrot summarized. “We didn’t come to lose, but we weren’t consistent enough and have to be more consistent. We still want to win the Atlantic 10. It was a little disjointed all the way around. We are still searching and discovering and found out more about our team tonight.”