Jerry Tipton

Cal: Willis struggled against Duke

Chicago After thrusting himself into contention for playing time in Kentucky’s first two games, Derek Willis took a step back against Duke Tuesday night.

Willis, who matched his 25 points of last season in the first two games, played seven scoreless minutes against the Blue Devils. He missed badly the one shot he took.

When asked about Willis, UK Coach John Calipari mentioned the other end of the floor.

“Struggled some on defense,” Calipari said. “But that’s OK. We’re still working on the rotation.”

Willis and another junior, Dominique Hawkins, can still contend for playing time, Calipari said. Hawkins did not play against Duke.

But Calipari cautioned that Willis and Hawkins must prove they deserve playing time. While reminded reporters that he’s played starters close to 40 minutes a game, Calipari said, “I’d rather not, but I will.”