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Let’s meet your starting lineups: Kentucky vs. Duke

Kentucky and Duke. It doesn’t get much better than this. Ultimate bragging rights for fans is on the line as two blue-blood college basketball programs square off in Georgia. The hostile “road” environment of the season opener in Brooklyn has passed, and the friendly confines of Catlanta await the Big Blue Nation. The Blue Devils will surely bring their rowdiest, but it will be up to those faithful who made the 380 mile journey to the Georgia Dome to drown out the Dookies.

PG: Jarrod Polson vs. Seth Curry

Ryan Harrow is still suffering from flu-like symptoms — like most of us are this time of year — and he understandably did not make the trip to Atlanta. That means it will all be up to the hero from Brooklyn, Jarrod Polson. It seems likely he will get the start, not only because he earned it from his play last week, but because he is legitimately the best option to run the offense. It has been said countless times already, but Polson has practiced against the likes of John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague — all NBA point guards. It should be no surprise that he has quietly developed as a ballplayer, much in the same way that Josh Harrellson did while practicing against DeMarcus Cousins and other elite Calipari big men.

Polson has a tough assignment going against Seth Curry. The senior is entering his third season as leader of the Blue Devils, so it is safe to assume he is more than comfortable leading the team. Curry doesn’t have mind-blowing stats in his career, but he has the potential to hang gaudy numbers against Kentucky. His skills range from a slashing and scoring to what a good point guard is supposed to do. Be the glue for the play makers. Find the open man and get him a shot. Drive the lane to create space on the outside, or initiate the feed down low for an easy bucket. Curry has the potential to pick apart Kentucky like a well-trained quarterback does against the Cats secondary on the gridiron.

SG: Archie Goodwin vs. Tyler Thornton

Between the mesmerizing play of Jarrod Polson, the solid contributions from Kyle Wiltjer, and the abysmal demonstration of rebounding, one other aspect from the Maryland game may have been overlooked. Archie Goodwin played 37 minutes, playing with high intensity the entire way. He finished with 16 points and drove the lane with authority, like the prototypical Calipari slasher. When he wasn’t converting the layups he was earning a trip to the foul line, where he knocked down 9-of-11 from the stripe.

The junior Tyler Thornton is entering his first season as a real contributor for Duke after averaging just four points last season. Thornton and Curry take double-duty as point guard, and as a result the Blue Devils backcourt has a lot of versatility. Goodwin is training to be a point guard with the guidance of Calipari, so he can certainly fire right back — not that it’s necessary to play defense to stifle the one-two punch. Curry will likely take the reins from the tip, but don’t be surprised to see Thornton mixing it up in an effort to confuse the Cats defense. Look for plenty of pick-and-rolls as Duke tries to get favorable matchups on the Kentucky switches.

W: Alex Poythress vs. Rasheed Sulaimon

Judging the players off a single game is ridiculous and unfair, as this entire roster is going to get better as the year progresses. Perhaps none will progress more than Alex Poythress. Once he “gets it,” Poythress will be a dominating force at both ends of the court. Against Maryland he looked slow getting back, lost on offensive sets, and confused in transition. It’s a steep learning curve as Poythress and the rest of the team are learning on the fly. But even at half-power Poythress is still better than half of the players in the country. But when it finally clicks — hopefully sooner than later — we will all know.

It was a quiet debut for Rasheed Sulaimon, who logged six points, four rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes against Georgia State last week. Sulaimon is the No. 18 overall player in the 2012 class and No. 6 shooting guard. Goodwin was ranked just ahead of Sulaimon as the No. 5 shooting guard in the class. But rankings don’t matter when the players are on the court, and Poythress has every reason to dominate this matchup if Mike Krzyzewski decides to stick with a smaller lineup. Poythress has a height and size advantage over Sulaimon, so if the Blue Devils need more length, look for Thornton to come out, Sulaimon to slide up to the 2 and Alex Murphy or Amile Jefferson to check in.

F: Kyle Wiltjer vs. Ryan Kelly

Kyle Wiltjer and Ryan Kelly are practically the same player. Both have the ability to range out while raining down three from behind the arc, and have the ability to score from down low with relative ease. But it is Wiltjer that means more to his team. The sophomore once again showed his favorite weapon against Maryland; a sniper-like accuracy from three-point land that he doesn’t even need to watch go in. He dropped 19 points on 4-of-6 shooting from deep. But rebounding is where things need to change.

Kelly is just as dangerous from outside at Wiltjer is. Last season he averaged nearly 12 points per game on 41% shooting from the perimeter. Kelly is (obviously) a big, physical brusing body that will crash the boards with urgency. Rebounding and getting a body on the Duke big men has to be a number one priority for Kentucky. The Cats cannot be out-rebounded like they were against the Terps, giving 23 offensive rebounds back for second- and sometimes third-chance points, and expect to win. One last thing about Ryan Kelly to remember is that he has a poop tooth.

C: Nerlens Noel vs. Mason Plumlee

Nerlens Noel is right there with Alex Poythress — very close to taking his already dominate game to an entirely new level. Noel will be going against what is probably the best big-man he will face all season in Mason Plumlee, Duke’s version of Anthony Davis. But he need not be intimidated. Rebound. Rebound. Rebound. That should be the game plan for Noel, at least to start the game. Don’t dig a hole you can’t work out of. That starts with securing the basketball on missed shots.

Plumlee scored 19 against Georgia State, hauled in 14 rebounds and collected four blocks in 35 minutes. One thing that Duke cannot do and expect to win against Kentucky is play without Mason Plumlee. Attacking the rim and drawing fouls early against him would be a viable strategy for Calipari to try. But it won’t be easy. Last season Plumlee only averaged a little over two fouls per game in 28 minutes.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

41 Comments for Let’s meet your starting lineups: Kentucky vs. Duke



  1. EyewearMan
    4:03 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Polson will not start, it will be Archie at PG, and Mays at the 2!



  2. Jon
    4:04 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t see Polson starting. More like Goodwin at point and Mays taking the sg spot. Not saying he isn’t deserving, just don’t see that happening.



  3. Jon
    4:04 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Touche #1.



  4. Scotty Sharp
    4:05 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I have a feeling Cal starts Goodwin at the point and Mays at the 2, and will bring in Polson Ice when the offense needs a boost (sliding Archie back over to shooting guard). That being said, I think they’ll each see 20 minutes at the point. But I agree, Polson has earned the right to start tonight.



  5. Scotty Sharp
    4:06 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    lol we’re all thinking the same



  6. Deepblue
    4:15 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I think Archie starts and maybe wins the starting PG position for the year tonight.



  7. schwing
    4:15 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    dominate is a verb.

    dominant is an adjective.



  8. Brian
    4:16 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Jarrod Polson never practiced against John Wall, he was part of Brandon Knight’s class.



  9. Bob
    4:21 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    “Nerlens Noel is right there with Alex Poythress — very close to taking his already dominate game to an entirely new level.”

    Stuart is taking his homerism to an entirely new level. Sheesh. Have we watched the same games so far this season?



  10. BobKYCats
    4:23 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Look for Jarrod “You Can’t Stop Me, You Can Only Hope To Contain Me” Polson to be a backup to Mays/Goodwin.



  11. Go Cats
    4:25 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Hate to say it, but Duke has edge at point and center and we have edge at 2 guard. The 3/4 is a wash. Need a big game out of Archie if we are going to win.



  12. Mark
    4:26 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Please put Ryan Kelly’s picture next to Howard Wolowitz.



  13. jryan
    4:27 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Stuart. I dunno how polson practiced against john wall considering he was in high school still



  14. Drew
    4:28 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Polson v. Curry in the battle of players who chose their current school over Liberty at one point!



  15. Ashlea Shepherd
    4:28 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU7GOk0gmjk&feature=plcp

    Hitler was not excited when he found out Duke was playing Kentucky…



  16. Realist
    4:33 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I think this could be ugly tonight for UK.



  17. Go Cats
    4:38 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Realist, don’t forget that Mason Plummlee is out and Seth Curry has a stress fracture in his leg. They will be playing plenty of frosh too. Also, I gotta believe the crowd will be mostly blue, which will impact the game.



  18. Yngvie Malmsteen.
    4:38 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    The fix is in.



  19. BobKYCats
    4:39 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Go Cats — Also, I gotta believe the crowd will be mostly blue

    Gee, you think?

    But seriously, Plumlee and Curry are out?



  20. knightynight
    4:41 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I can’t stand the sight of Plumlee. He’s just infuriating to look at.



  21. Go Cats
    4:45 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    RE 19. Sorry, Marshall Plumlee, not Mason, is out. This is significant as they don’t have much depth if Mason gets into foul trouble.



  22. Musehobo
    4:46 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I hope Stu’s right about Polson. I would like to see him start this game, but you never know.



  23. ibpoe
    5:00 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    What? Start WCS to tire plumber a bit, then toss in Noel’s speed to drain him. Plumlee will kill noel



  24. SoCal Will
    5:11 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    You forgot Coach O against Coach WoJo because the day ain’t complete until WoJo is planted….



  25. U black sum bitch
    5:25 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah bitch Yeah Bitch call me Steve O!



  26. ThankfulCat
    5:26 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Last years team would have deeeeesssstttrrrooooyyyeeedddd this puke team. This year we are do young and raw I expect puke to win and knight to embarrass himself.



  27. John Wall
    5:27 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Just looking at Kelly and Plumlee is commical. So glad they arent on our team



  28. DoubleZeroMostel
    5:30 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I got a fever and the only thing that can cure it is more Poop Tooth. Seriously, I thought KSR would be letting the Poop Tooth reference fly all day, every post. What gives?



  29. James
    5:39 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Polson was in HS when JWall was here. Sad a KSR writer didn’t catch that.



  30. Katdaddy
    5:47 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I’m more concern about poythress than anybody, he looks so out of source. we need him to play big also.



  31. John Wall
    5:51 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Just realized I hate duke so much that it even pisses me off that i have to watch them play, even against us. True hate. Mind blown.



  32. We Need Some Levity Here
    5:53 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I would like to believe the person who said “I believe the crowd will be mostly blue” was
    trying to make a funny. Have we really become this literal?

    Also, are KSR writers cannibalizing each other now? Did we not, last week, already deal with
    the whole “Polson didn’t practice against Wall” issue? Perhaps someone read an incorrect
    article and quoted it, without bothering to read the comments, which corrected the error,
    which frankly never should have been made in the first place?

    I didn’t think “ridiculous manner possibile” meant also plagiarizing each other, and
    completely abandonment of proof-reading. C’mon KSR writers. We love you, we
    love KSR, and we appreciate what you do. Please also uphold yourselves to standards
    high enough to assure you won’t still be writing for KSR five years from now.
    Nothing succeeds like… PROOF READING!



  33. wildcatman
    6:02 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Heard Bob Knight is calling the game tonight is this true was not told about this one



  34. J A Brooks
    6:18 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    I’m a little worried about this game but I’m starting to relax just a little bit the more I look at it.

    Duke’s backcourt is very small. (6’1, 6’1) so I’m not sure who they’re going to have guarding Archie Goodwin. Neither Curry nor Thornton can guard Goodwin one on one but I also think Goodwin has THE ABILITY to really slow down whichever guard he is on. Polson also has underrated defense so I’m not super worried when he’s in the game.

    Duke has a more experienced frontcourt, that’s where there advantage lies.

    Kelly is very similar to Wiltjer, but I don’t think his post moves are as refined. Unfortunately he’s a lot stronger than Wiltjer in my opinion so that’ll be one to watch. I think WCS could really give Kelly some problems when he checks in at the 4 though.

    Plumlee had a huge first game… against Georgia State. Lets not anoint him a super star just yet. I don’t care who Georgia State threw at him, I’m sure Noel can defend and rebound better than that person.

    BUT here’s the big question… who the hell does Duke have that can guard Alex Poythress. I talked up Poythress as much as anyone and I still think the kid can be incredible at some point. He’s huge for a SF and is very fast for a 4. He’s looked a little lost at times and I think he’s adjusting to his role (he really reminds me of Terrence Jones as a freshman when it was either amazing or terrible) but this could be a great moment for him to take over. If they start Sulaimon at the three Poythress should be able to eat him alive on offense. If they start Amile Jefferson or put him in once Sulaimon struggles then I really don’t see it changing much except Jefferson is not even close to the shooter that Sulaimon is so that would be good for us. Even if they slide Sulaimon to the 2 Duke will still be benching one of their shooters in Thornton or Curry.

    I think Alex is the key to tonights victory. If he can take advantage of Dukes small lineup and have a big game then I think we will win. If he’s still lost and doesn’t find away to abuse either Sulaimon or Jefferson then we could be in trouble.

    I’m still not sure who Duke has that can guard Goodwin and I know Noel and WCS are long and athletic enough to pose trouble for Duke’s frontcourt… I just don’t know if it WILL happen.



  35. Kevin
    6:25 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Dominate? My, how the standards for writers are slipping to an all time low. That is saying something.



  36. Badams
    6:35 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Im not even gonna look to see if someone said it already, but for the millionth time, Polson NEVER practiced against Wall. Wall declared for the the while Polson was a senior in high school. I never complain about the information on this site, but come on, get your basic information right.



  37. jj
    6:44 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    When Harrow was at NCST he would get so nervous and worked up for the big games he couldn’t play. Got sick every time they played UNC.



  38. Duke
    6:46 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Yawn



  39. Rixter
    6:56 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Look, we all know Polson never played against John Wall, but KSR keeps insisting he did, and it’s their blog.
    I hear Polson used to give Wall and Bledsoe fits in practice, any truth to that, KSR?



  40. ms
    7:06 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    digger saying this is going to be the breakout game for mason plumlee 30+ points…. god i hope hes wrong and i would love for our kids to make him and knight eat their words tonight…



  41. Stumps
    7:52 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    s/brusing/bruising