ATLANTA -- The old proverb suggests old age and treachery will often triumph over youth and skill.
One could argue that was the case Tuesday night at the Georgia Dome as Duke called upon veterans like Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee to hold off Kentucky's latest gang of talented freshmen, 75-68, in the Champions Classic.
Curry, a senior guard, scored 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and helped ice the win with four consecutive free throws down the stretch. Plumlee, meanwhile, did most of his damage in the first half. The senior center had 14 of his 18 points by halftime to help the Blue Devils take a 31-30 lead into the locker room.
An ESPN halftime interview with UK coach John Calipari also provided one of the night's talking points as he suggested with a wink and a smile that the crafty Blue Devils had gotten away with a hefty dose of "flopping" on the defensive end of the floor, taking away scoring opportunities for the Cats.
"They're flopping all over the place," Calipari told ESPN's Andy Katz. "In the NBA, they'd all be suspended," referring to the pros' new anti-flopping rules.
"We gotta know they're trying to take charges. That's about five turnovers right there."
Calipari later clarified that he was merely joking about the situation. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski fired back that it's not flopping if there's contact on the play, providing another entertaining storyline to the first meeting between the two national powers since 2002.
All of those efforts, legitimate and perceived otherwise, helped No. 9 Duke (2-0) overcome a 20-point, eight-rebound performance by Kentucky freshman forward Alex Poythress. The defending national champions also got 16 points apiece from newcomers Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin.
The third-ranked Wildcats (1-1) played without starting point guard Ryan Harrow, who stayed behind in Lexington after being tested for lingering fatigue issues of unknown origin. Harrow played only 10 minutes in the season opener against Maryland due to flu-like symptoms.
"We need to go one more deep," Calipari said. "You saw that we were missing Ryan today. You could see it. Julius (Mays) needed a break. I thought Jarrod (Polson) did fine again. He played 12 minutes and did OK, but it looks as thought we're going to have to get Jon Hood in this rotation now because we've got to give guys rest.
"Just figuring out how we play. That's my job as the coach. This is who our team is. We've got to figure all that out."
After a first half which saw neither team lead by no more than six, Duke seized control of the game with a 21-7 run midway through the second half. Most impressively, the Blue Devils did so with Plumlee riding the bench with his fourth foul at the 16:04 mark.
Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke's own talented freshman, shook off early shooting woes and hit three 3-pointers during the spurt to open up what appeared to be a comfortable lead.
But trailing 58-44 with with 9:24 remaining, Kentucky mounted a 17-6 run to get back in it. Poythress had six points and Mays added five to breathe life back into the Cats. Mays had a 3-point shot at the two-minute mark that could have tied the game, but it missed the mark. A turnover by Goodwin trailing by five with :47 left sealed UK's fate as Duke hit seven of its last eight free throws to claim the win.
"Seth was terrific," Krzyzewski said. "I think he was the difference-maker in the game, so the fact that he's a fifth-year senior has to help.
"What got us was two stretches of a minute and a half that were eight-point swings," Calipari said. "That's how they got up (14)... two or three possessions became eight points. That's what we don't understand yet. Every possession matters. Alex was 100 times better (than in the Maryland game) yet there was still spells in the game where he gave up on balls and didn't come up with them.
"But that's a good team we played. I mean, when you look at it, we shoot 49 percent, 40 from the 3, 66 from the line and have 13 turnovers. Normally, we're winning that game. But (Duke) played smarter -- 16 assists, eight turnovers. They're a veteran team."
* Kyle Wiltjer, who scored a team-high 19 points in the Cats' season-opening win over Maryland, managed only five points in 32 minutes of action against Duke. He did, however, dish out a career-high four assists.
* Archie Goodwin became the eighth freshman under John Calipari to score double-figures in his first two college games. The Arkansas native also had 16 points against Maryland.
* UK leads the overall series by an 11-9 mark, but Duke has won seven of the last eight matchups.
* Calipari is now 0-2 against Duke.
* UK's all-time record in the Atlanta area moves to 68-30.
* The Wildcats return to action Friday at Rupp Arena against Lafayette in a 7 p.m. ET tipoff on FoxSports South.