Duke holds off Kentucky 75-68 as Seth Curry scores 23

Duke guard Seth Curry (30) shoots over the defense of Kentucky's Julius Mays during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. Duke beat Kentucky 75-68.
AP Photo/Dave Martin

ATLANTA Seth Curry did some schooling on Kentucky's latest group of heralded freshmen, showing that experience does matter — especially in November.

The senior guard scored 23 points and No. 9 Duke held off a furious comeback by the third-ranked Wildcats, beating the defending national champions 75-68 Tuesday night in the first matchup between the storied programs since 2001.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski likes the mix of his team, while Kentucky's John Calipari conceded that his youngsters still have a lot of growing up to do.

"Veterans and talent," Krzyzewski said. "Now, I wouldn't mind having some of their guys. And I'm sure they would like to have some of our guys."

Duke (2-0) appeared to be in control, even with Mason Plumlee on the bench in foul trouble. The Blue Devils ripped off a 13-3 run, capped by Rasheed Sulaimon's 3-pointer that made it 58-44 with 9 1/2 minutes remaining.

But Kentucky (1-1) wasn't done, rallying like the defending champ even though this is essentially a whole new team in Calipari's one-and-done system. The Wildcats outscored Duke 17-6 over the next six minutes and actually had a chance to tie it.

Julius Mays missed a 3-pointer with the Blue Devils clinging to a 64-61 lead.

Curry made sure youthful Kentucky didn't get any closer. He blew past Archie Goodwin on a drive — using a pump fake to get by the freshman guard — that essentially clinched the win.

The Blue Devils are expecting nothing less out their leaders.

"That's what we worked on during the preseason — taking control of the team, having it be our team," Curry said. "I had it going, so they came to me."

Alex Poythress led Kentucky with 20 points, while Nerlens Noel and Goodwin added 16 apiece. All are freshmen, showing this team has plenty of room to grow before tournament time.

CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman says despite the loss, it's too early to judge how the Wildcats will fare - but they have the talent to go a long way.

"It would be easy to proclaim this group a farce, a squad that has minimal -- if any -- opportunity to convene with three others in this building come April 6 for the Final Four. But that would be silly, since Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin were all playing in just their second collegiate games," Goodman writes.

He adds: "Sure, we all understand -- and have known -- that this team won't measure up to the Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist group that tore through just about everyone last season en route to a national championship. Let's end those comparisons right now, but that doesn't mean this team can't repeat."

Their ultimate goal is a return trip to "Cat-Lanta" — and two more games in the Georgia Dome, site of this season's Final Four. In the first game of a doubleheader featuring four of the country's best programs, No. 21 Michigan State knocked off No. 7 Kansas 67-64.

"This was a big game for these guys," Calipari said. "They were in Vegas playing AAU ball four months ago."

Even though Kentucky opened the season with a tight victory over Maryland, Calipari wasn't happy with his team's effort — especially on the boards. They were outrebounded 54-38 by the Terrapins, including 28 at the offensive end.

That was simply unacceptable given Kentucky's vaunted frontcourt featuring the 6-foot-10 Noel and 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein.

Rebounding wasn't as much of an issue this time — Duke finished with a 31-30 edge — but the experienced Blue Devils showed a bit more poise down the stretch.

"Nerlens played way more aggressive than he did against Maryland," Calipari said. "We're getting better. We were better than we were against Maryland. This team just had some seniors. But we had a chance. When we got it to three I said, `We're going to win this.' They just made their free throws."

After Duke let Kentucky back in the game by continuing to put up errant jumpers, Curry finally changed things up. He gave a slight fake and took off for the hoop with just over 2 minutes remaining, forcing Goodwin to grab him by the arm. The senior knocked down both ends of the one-and-one, pushing Duke to a 66-61 lead with 2:04 remaining.

Poythress gave the Wildcats a semblance of hope, putting back a missed shot, but Curry blew by Goodwin again for a layin that made it 68-63 with 1:13 left and essentially sealed it. Calipari called a timeout and screamed at Goodwin as the freshman walked toward the bench.

In the final minute, Curry added two more free throws to help finish off the Wildcats.

Plumlee fouled out near the end, but not before scoring 18 points in 29 minutes. Ryan Kelly and Sulaimon had 10 points apiece. Both Curry and Sulaimon hit three shots beyond the arc, as the Blue Devils finished 8 of 18 from 3-point range.

Other Top 25 action:

NO. 5 MICHIGAN 77, CLEVELAND STATE 47

Tim Hardaway Jr. had 17 points and six rebounds, and Michigan advanced to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off with a victory over Cleveland State.

It was the third straight victory by at least 30 points for the Wolverines (3-0), who shot 51 percent against a Cleveland State (2-1) team coming off an overtime win the day before.

Nik Stauskas scored 15 points, and Trey Burke added 12 points and seven assists for Michigan, which broke off a 29-5 run to finish the first half for a 42-14 lead at the break.

Anton Grady led the Vikings with 15 points.

Michigan was 25 of 40 from 3-point range in its first two games but only 9 of 24 Tuesday.

NO. 21 MICHIGAN ST. 67, NO. 7 KANSAS 64

Keith Appling scored 19 points, including a brilliant drive with 13.5 seconds left, and Michigan State rebounded from a season-opening loss with an upset of Kansas.

The Jayhawks (1-1) led 59-54 with 5 minutes remaining, but Michigan State (1-1) rallied.

Freshman Gary Harris scored 18 points, including back-to-back baskets that sparked an 8-0 run. Down the stretch, it was all Appling.

Elijah Johnson led Kansas with 16 points.

Kansas center Jeff Withey, who played so well in last season's NCAA tournament, wasn't much of a factor. He was held to eight points and seven rebounds, along with four turnovers.

NO. 13 UCLA 80, UC IRVINE 79, OT

Jordan Adams scored 26 points, making all 16 of his free throws, and UCLA edged UC Irvine in regional play of the Legends Classic.

Will Davis II missed two free throws with 2 seconds left in regulation that would have sealed the upset for the Anteaters (1-1), who fell to 10-35 all-time against Pac-12 teams.

Daman Starring tied it on a 3-pointer and Michael Wilder's 3 gave the Anteaters a 79-78 lead with 22 seconds to go in the extra session. But Larry Drew II's layup with 17 seconds kept the Bruins (2-0) perfect at new Pauley Pavilion.

David Wear added 13 points and nine rebounds, and his twin brother Travis had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bruins.

NO. 14 MISSOURI 91, ALCORN 54

Phil Pressey scored 21 points and Laurence Bowers added 14 — all in the second half — to help Missouri rout Alcorn State.

After a rough first half, the Tigers (2-0) pulled away from the Braves. Missouri made just nine of its 39 attempts before the break and held a seven-point halftime advantage thanks to Pressey's deep 3-pointer with three seconds left.

Bowers hit three 3-pointers in the second half to help Missouri take command. The Tigers used an 18-3 run after the half to blow the game open.

LeAntwan Luckett scored 14 points and Anthony Nieves added 13 for Alcorn State (1-1).

NO. 23 CONNECTICUT 67, VERMONT 49

Shabazz Napier scored 13 points and freshman Omar Calhoun added 12 to lead Connecticut over Vermont.

Holy Cross transfer R.J. Evans added 11 points and Tyler Olander had nine points and nine rebounds for UConn (2-0), which was playing its home opener after returning from Germany and an upset win over Michigan State last Friday in the Armed Forces Classic.

Luke Apfeld led Vermont (1-1) with nine points.

UConn's smothering defense made the difference in this one. The Huskies held Vermont to 30 percent shooting and just 15 baskets after limiting the Spartans to 37.5 percent on Friday.

NO. 24 CINCINNATI 102, MVSU 60

Sean Kilpatrick scored 20 points and Cheikh Mbodj had four of Cincinnati's seven blocks to help lead the Bearcats over Mississippi Valley State.

The Bearcats (2-0) took control with a 23-4 run in the first half that featured a pair of 3-pointers by Cashmere Wright. The point guard had all of his 11 points in the take-control half.

JaQuon Parker added 13 points for the Bearcats, who shot 53.7 percent and dominated the boards 51-25. Cincinnati had its highest point total since a 105-69 win over North Carolina A&T on Dec. 30, 2005, under interim coach Andy Kennedy.

Davon Usher and Darryl Marshall scored 13 points apiece for MVSU (0-2).

NO. 25 SAN DIEGO ST. 91, SAN DIEGO CHRISTIAN 57

Jamaal Franklin had 28 points and 12 rebounds as San Diego State bounced back from a loss to Syracuse with a win over San Diego Christian of the NAIA.

The game had been scheduled for Sunday night, but was pushed back when SDSU's season-opening game against Syracuse on the USS Midway aircraft carrier was postponed from Friday night to Sunday afternoon because of the threat of rain. Syracuse won 62-49.

Chase Tapley scored 18 for SDSU (1-1).

Kevin Dawson scored 15 points and Kwaminique Brandon had 14 for San Diego Christian, which is located in suburban El Cajon.