Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Freshmen Trevor Keels and Paolo Banchero scored 25 and 22 points to lead Duke to a 79-71 victory over Kentucky on Tuesday night in the 2021-22 men's college basketball season opener for both teams, which was a rare Top 10 match-up.
Keels made 10 of 18 shots in his Blue Devils debut, which was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe led 10th-ranked Kentucky with 17 points and 19 rebounds
"They fought back. That's a great team," Keels said of Kentucky after the game. "They got good players. They fought back, but we stayed under control in the game and we came out with the victory."
No. 9 Duke outshot Kentucky 50.8% to 37.7% and led by as many as 15 points.
"This was a moment kind of game and for us to be in that game when our better players did not play well and their two really good players played really well and we had a chance to win: That's crazy," Kentucky coach John Calipari told reporters.
Keels assisted junior forward Wendell Moore Jr. for the first basket of the night 46 seconds into the first half. The Wildcats went on to tie the score three times, but the Blue Devils never trailed in the first half.
Banchero scored 12 points in the first 20 minutes to give the Blue Devils a 39-35 lead at halftime. The Wildcats started the second half on a 7-2 run to take a 42-41 edge, but the lead switched hands eight times within the first 4:15 of the half.
Duke later used a 14-2 run to build a 61-50 lead with 12:28 to go and never trailed again. The Wildcats cut the Blue Devils lead to 4 points with 6:09 remaining, but Keels scored 16 down the stretch to help his team secure the victory.
Moore scored 12 points in the win. Kentucky junior guard Sahvir Wheeler chipped in 16 points and 10 assists in the loss.
"We have a good team," said longtime Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who's in his final season with the Blue Devils before he retires. "It's a young team and it's their first big game. I mean, for them to come through like that. I'm very proud of them. ... John's got a really good basketball team.
"So we're proud of our win and we're 1-0 now. So let's see what we can do."
The Blue Devils (1-0) next host Army (1-0) at 7 p.m. EST Friday at Cameron Indoor Arena in Durham, N.C., and the Wildcats (0-1) host Robert Morris Friday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.