Duke’s 118–84 Destruction Over Kentucky Foreshadows A Special Season Ahead
The Duke Blue Devils pulled off a 118–84 victory over the Kentuck Wildcats in the eighth Champion Classic season opener on Tuesday night, and looking back at this game, the Blue Devils appear to be headed for an extremely successful season.
The Wildcats’ 34-point loss was not only the largest of head coach John Calipari‘s career but it was the worst margin of defeat suffered by an AP top-two team since 1951.
“They’re a very good team,” Calipari said. “If they play like that, they’re not losing many, if that’s who they are.”
Duke’s all-freshman “Big Three” combined to score 83 points, which was only one point fewer than Kentucky’s entire team had on the night.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “You start four freshmen, no matter how talented they are, you never know what they’re going to do in this environment against an outstanding team and great program. And they responded. They were magnificent.
Duke notched its 100th point with a whopping 7:38 still left to play, smashing the previous record of 94 (set by Kansas, against Duke, back in 2013).
The Bule Devils also edged out 2014–15 Kentucky for the largest Champions Classic margin of victory, overtaking the Wildcats’ 32-point 2014 win over the Kansas Jayhawks.
Duke had just four turnovers on the night, coughing it up on only 4.9% of its possessions. (Kentucky, for context, turned it over on 18.3%). It was the lowest rate of any of the 188 Division I teams that played D-I opponents on Tuesday night, per kenpom.com.
— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) November 7, 2018
R.J. Barrett set a Duke freshman record with 33 points, six assists and four rebounds asserting himself as Duke’s best player. The Wildcats simply didn’t have an answer for Barrett, who scored 20 points in the first half.
33 pts | 6 ast
RJ Barrett lived up to that No. 1 recruit hype in his first game with Duke. pic.twitter.com/ccb5tDkfSj
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 7, 2018
Zion Williamson put up 28 points and seven rebounds. Williamson’s 28 points came in just 23 minutes of action, and he missed just two of 13 attempts from the field. Altogether, he posted the highest offensive rating (164) of anyone on either side in the game.
Duke point guard Tre Jones pitched in with six points, seven assists, four rebounds and didn’t turn the ball over once. He was one of just five Division I players who had at least seven assists with no TOs on opening night, and the only freshman of those five.
Duke’s Cam Reddish added 22 points and four steals.
The Blue Devils are now No. 1 in Wednesday morning’s Top 25 and One, while Kentucky has dropped to No. 9.
Duke will play host to the Army Sunday afternoon. The game will air on ESPN at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Kentucky’s next game will be against Southern Illinois Friday night at 7:00 p.m. EST.