ATLANTA — For 20 minutes, the learning curve seemed too steep for Nerlens Noel Tuesday night. He hunted a blocked shot, but surrendered a layup. He got moved off the block with a mild forearm by Duke’s Miles Plumlee and gave up another 2 points. Several possessions later, his man sprinted ahead and scored in transition.
Two games into his college career, the 18-year-old from Everett, Mass., looked as if he was in that freshman fog. He is Kentucky’s 6-foot-10-inch center and the expectations for 20 minutes looked out of reach.