By GARY B. GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Pleased as Kentucky coach John Calipari was by last week’s performance on the national stage, he seemed more encouraged by the second-ranked Wildcats’ encore that figures to raise their profile even more.
De’Aaron Fox scored 16 points, Malik Monk added 14 and Kentucky took a step toward the nation’s top ranking by rolling past Duquesne 93-59 on Sunday night.
Five days after beating No. 13 Michigan State in New York, the Wildcats (4-0) made their case toward supplanting Duke for No. 1 when the AP Top 25 is announced Monday. The first of several scheduled late-evening starts didn’t affect Kentucky as it won by its biggest margin this season.
The Wildcats controlled Duquesne (2-3) on both ends, holding the Dukes to a season-low 30 percent shooting while making 35 of 76 attempts (46 percent).
“One thing I was anxious to see was how would we play, would there be a letdown,” Calipari said. “I thought we played well and I think Isaiah (Briscoe) kind of dragged them in the first half. … I thought we played hard. We’re still learning each other.”
Briscoe and Mychal Mulder each had 13 points and Bam Adebayo had 12 with eight rebounds for Kentucky, which out-rebounded Duquesne 49-32 to win its second game of the Bluegrass Showcase. Mulder’s total was a career high and included three 3-pointers.
“We’re coming together better as the season progresses,” Adebayo said.
Emile Blackman’s 13 points led the Dukes, who lost their third in four games.
Duquesne: Coming off a one-point loss Friday against Canisius, the Dukes were close at the start but quickly fell behind due to cold shooting. They made just 6 of 29 in the first half (21 percent) and committed 11 of their 18 turnovers as they struggled against the Wildcats’ disruptive defense and length. They were near even on the boards for a while but eventually beaten there as well.
Nothing Kentucky did surprised Duquesne coach Jim Ferry other than its ability to sustain the effort.
“It’s relentless,” Ferry said of the Wildcats’ intensity. “It’s just so challenging, the size and the length of the guards, how quickly they attack and they play very unselfishly.”
Kentucky: Seeking to pick up where they left off in an impressive defensive showing against Michigan State, the Wildcats constantly contested the Dukes’ passes and shots to build a 50-23 lead at the break. They controlled the paint offensively (44-20) and established a season best in rebounding differential.
Top-ranked Duke’s loss to No. 7 Kansas at Madison Square Garden opened the door for Kentucky to assume the top spot, and the Wildcats made it a foregone conclusion with their easy victory over the Dukes.
Earlier Sunday, Kentucky announced the signings of 2017 recruits Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green —both guards — along with center Nick Richards and forward P.J. Washington. All are rated as four- or five-star prospects by recruiting services, which of course is a familiar story in Lexington.
Calipari improved to 122-4 at Rupp Arena and tied Joe B. Hall’s record for most wins at the venue. Ferry drew a laugh when he remarked, “He lost four?” and Calipari said “Yaaaay” when told of the achievement before noting what visitors face when playing there.
“It’s a hard place to win if you’re an opponent and the fans make it that way,” he said. “I walked in today, 9 o’clock on a Sunday night, we were missing some students but other than that, the place was packed. Are you kidding me?”
Attendance was 21,327.
Duquesne: The Dukes host UT Martin on Wednesday night as they continue play in the Bluegrass Showcase.
Kentucky: Hosts Cleveland State in a Wednesday matinee before Thanksgiving.