Danny Ferry scored 23 points Saturday as No. 1-ranked Duke used 16- and 13-point second-half bursts to pull away from outmanned Kentucky, 80-55, in the 10th Tipoff game.
The Blue Devils returned 10 players from last year’s Final Four team and were expected to open the season with an easy victory. However, Kentucky, which lost seven of its eight leading scorers from last season’s NCAA tournament team and has been under the cloud of an NCAA investigation, made it close for 24 minutes.
Kentucky tied the game, 43-43, with 16:43 left on a lean-in by LeRon Ellis. But Duke’s experience then prevailed, as the Blue Devils went on a 16-0 run over the next 6:34. After Reggie Hanson’s 3-point play ended the Kentucky drought, Duke went on a 13-0 surge to make it 72-46 with 3:50 left.
Ellis led Kentucky with 17 points.