INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WAVE) - It was a battle of the college basketball blue bloods when No. 2 Kentucky and No. 4 Duke met in Indianapolis Tuesday night, with the Blue Devils coming out on top in a big way, 118-84.
The Wildcats had no answer for Duke’s fierce freshmen in the program’s worst loss under head coach John Calipari. Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett combined for 61 points for Duke. Fellow freshman Cam Reddish added 22 points.
Kentucky’s offensive effort was led by grad transfer Reid Travis and freshman Keldon Johnson. Johnson had 23 points and Travis added 22 points and seven rebounds.
Tyler Herro added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Duke led wire-to-wire, and while UK’s fight never diminished, Mike Krzyzewski’s team was an offensive juggernaut.
Coach K began Tuesday’s postgame remarks simply, “We played great... I mean, we played great.”
The first half was dominated by the Blue Devils, who led by as many as 21. Barrett and Williamson were absolutely lights out for Duke in their regular season debut. Barrett led all scorers with 20 points in the first half, while Williamson had 13 points in the half.
“RJ in that first half was terrific,” Krzyzewski said. “He was a man.”
While it was hard to discern with the naked eye what portion of the sea of fans dressed in blue were cheering for the Wildcats, an immediate ear test when the starting lineups were announced revealed that Big Blue Nation was once again in attendance in full force. The Kentucky-heavy crowd was ready to erupt, but the Blue Devil dominance provided few opportunities.
One opportunity came as the Cats went on a 6-0 run to cut Duke’s lead to 15 at 34-19 with just under nine minutes left before the break.
Kentucky went nearly five minutes without a made field goal during the first half, which allowed Duke to build on its already substantial lead. Johnson provided an offensive spark for Wildcats, with 14 first-half points on 6-11 shooting.
Travis was 2-3 from the field in the first, with eight points and four rebounds.
Duke came out strong once again in the second half, with two quick baskets from Williamson and Reddish in the first minute to extend the Blue Devils lead to 22.
That lead would expand to as many as 37 in the second half as Duke’s fearsome freshmen continued to fire on all cylinders.
Jack White was also big for the Blue Devils, with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Duke had 10 steals on the night, while Kentucky nabbed just one.
“Obviously we were all very excited, hyped up for this game,” Travis said. “It’s tough when you go down like that to start the game.. Collectively we didn’t get the job done."
The Blue Devils also dominated in points off turnovers, by a margin of 27-8
The Blue Devils 118 points broke the scoring record for a single team in the Champions Classic. The previous record was held by Kansas, with 94 points over Duke in 2013.
Barrett’s 33 points and six assists marked the highest-scoring debut in Duke basketball history.
“I got outcoached, you guys got outplayed, we’ll watch the tape and move on," Calipari said.
The Wildcats move on, and head home to Rupp to take on Southern Illinois University Friday night. Tipoff for that game is set for 7 p.m.