Duke basketball: 3 studs, 2 duds following win over Kentucky

Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball team saw some elite performers in its win against Kentucky. 

One of the biggest questions for the Duke basketball team entering the season was if the players surrounding Paolo Banchero would be able to help the freshman superstar in a major way.

That answer was received loud and clear.

Not only did the Blue Devils show they can help Banchero, but some players also showed they can be the star of the show on any given night.

No. 9 Duke (1-0) toppled No. 10 Kentucky (0-1), 79-71, in the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, sending a message across the country that last season’s disappointments were a one-time thing.

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Not only does Mike Krzyzewski’s team look poised to return to the NCAA Tournament in the Hall of Famer’s final season, but the Blue Devils also look like a squad that will compete for a No. 1 seed and a National Title.

Granted, it was only the first of many games to come this season, but it is hard to ignore how the young Dukies performed with the bright lights on them for the first time as a collective unit.

Krzyzewski had a rotation of nine players in the victory, although that is likely to dwindle to seven or eight as February and March roll around.

Several Duke basketball players have taken the next step in development

The potential on the Duke roster was limitless on paper, only if a handful of returning players were able to take the next step in their development as the veteran leaders on the team.

Oddly enough, there are only two players with NCAA Tournament experience on the Blue Devil roster this season, Joey Baker and Marquette graduate transfer Theo John, and that experience is very, very limited.

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Baker and John have combined to play in two NCAA Tournament games, with their respective programs, for a combined total of 24 minutes and three points.

We now present a new postgame article on Ball Durham, ‘Studs and Duds’, similar to the ‘Stock Up, Stock Down’ column of years past as we will discuss who excelled in the recent game and who fell short of expectations.