ATLANTA — John Calipari took a shot at Duke on national TV, then claimed he didn’t remember saying it.
Seth Curry scored 23 points and No. 9 Duke held off a furious comeback by No. 3 Kentucky, beating the defending national champions 75-68 Tuesday night in the first matchup between the storied programs since 2001.
However, it was Calipari’s comments at halftime that sent Twitter into a tizzy.
“They’re flopping all over the place. In the NBA, they’d all be suspended,” Calipari said in an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz.
Following the game, a reporter asked Calipari about the comment.
“I did?” Calipari said. “I don’t even remember. What did I say?”
Before the reporter could respond to the question, Calipari cut him off.
“It was a joke,” he said. “Come on, you guys can take a joke at Duke. Geez.”
Krzyzewski was also asked about the comment after the game.
“I mean, he has a right to say whatever he wants,” K said. “There’s a difference between a charge and a flop. A flop means you don’t take any contact. I would hope that anybody that watches the game would say our kids really played outstanding defense and were there to take charges.”
Krzyzewski jokingly added, “and we don’t make any money, so we can’t be fined.”
In the second half, Duke (1-1) appeared to be in control, even with Mason Plumlee on the bench in foul trouble. The Blue Devils ripped off a 13-3 run, capped by Rasheed Sulaimon’s 3-pointer that made it 58-44 with 9 1/2 minutes remaining.
But Kentucky (1-1) wasn’t done, rallying like the defending champ even though this is essentially a whole new team. The Wildcats outscored Duke 17-6 over the next six minutes and actually had a chance to tie it.
Julius Mays missed a 3-pointer with the Blue Devils clinging to a 64-61 lead.
Curry made sure youthful Kentucky didn’t get any closer. He schooled freshman guard Archie Goodwin on a drive that essentially clinched the win.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.