Duke takes on Kentucky tonight in what is one of the most anticipated non-conference match-ups of the 2012-13 college basketball seasons. There will be a lot to watch out for from both teams, but let’s take a look at which guys in the Duke jerseys you’ll want to keep an eye on tonight:
Alex Murphy – SF
Murphy had an unexplained absence in Duke’s 74-55 win against Georgia State on Friday, with Coach K’s only explanation being that Duke ‘didn’t get to where Alex would play’. The 6’8 and incredibly athletic forward started in both of Duke’s exhibition games, so his absence came as a bit of a shock to most observers.
Will he get into the game tonight? Duke could use his size against Kentucky’s plethora of big men, but reports are that Murphy lacks confidence, and to debut him against the 3rd-ranked team in the nation might not be the biggest confidence-builder in the world. Keep an eye on Murphy – if he even manages to enter the game.
Mason Plumlee – PF
Last week, Plumlee asserted himself as a dominate threat down low against a smaller and inexperienced Georgia State team. Can he be just as dominate against a significantly more talented opponent? Kentucky struggled against Maryland on the boards, so expect Plumlee to put up ten-plus in the rebound department, but I am more interested in seeing how he performs against the Wildcats on offense. Will he be able to create his own opportunities?
Plumlee still hasn’t established himself as the offensive force Duke needs him to be, but a big game against the Wildcats could do just that.
Quinn Cook/Tyler Thornton – PG
Neither point guard played like they wanted the starting job last week, with both guards playing out of control and turnover-prone for much of the game. One of them will need to step up if Duke expects to defeat Kentucky and I fully expect a better performance from one of the two guards. Which one will step up and (hopefully) be that guy who leads Duke to victory? Will it be the more talented Cook, or the little-ball-of-energy Thornton?
Regardless of what happens with these players, chances are this will be a very entertaining game. Duke has a chance to establish itself as a top-five team in the nation and Kentucky has a chance to show voters they were wrong to not give the defending National Champions the number one ranking in the polls. We are in for a fun night, Duke fans.
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