December 23, 1998
It didn't have the importance of the last two meetings between Duke and Kentucky. For the Blue Devils, though, it mattered most that it didn't have the same outcome.
Second-ranked Duke held onto a big lead Tuesday night and beat No. 3 Kentucky 71-60 in the Jimmy V Classic.
In last March's South Regional final, the Blue Devils blew a 17-point lead over the final 9 1/2 minutes as the Wildcats went on to their second national championship in three years.
Duke (11-1) won its sixth straight game with some strong defense and an answer for even any thought the Wildcats (10-2) had of a comeback.
The Blue Devils scored the first 11 points of the second half to take a 50-34 lead with 15:53 to play. Kentucky, which had won its last six games overall and the last 11 it had played against ranked teams, just couldn't get any kind of offense untracked in front of a sellout crowd of 20,029 at Continental Airlines Arena.
When the Wildcats did get within 56-48 with 8:47 to play, Duke's Elton Brand, who finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, came up with a three-point play.
A 3-pointer by Heshimu Evans had Kentucky within 62-53 with 5:45 left, but Chris Carrawell laid in a loose ball with 4:30 left to get Duke's lead back to 11.
Brand, who was 9-for-12 from the field, had another three-point play 1:10 later, this one with a layup from a nice pass by William Avery.
Avery, who was one of the guards on the court last March in St. Petersburg as the big lead and a Final Four berth slipped away, punched the air for effect as the ball dropped through.