No. 4 Duke grabbed the early bragging rights for the 2018-19 basketball season, producing a stunning 118-84 rout of No. 2 Kentucky in the Champions Classic on Tuesday in Indianapolis.
The contest, which featured 12 alumni of the McDonald’s All-American Game, also was an early proving ground for some of the nation’s best freshmen.
Duke (1-0) had the No. 1 recruiting class last season, including No. 1-ranked RJ Barrett, No. 2 Cam Reddish and No. 5 Zion Williamson. The trio scored 33, 22 and 28, respectively, to lead the rout.
Kentucky (0-1) got 23 points from Keldon Johnson, the 13th-rated freshman. Reid Travis, a graduate transfer from Stanford, added 22 points and seven rebounds.
Duke, which held a 17-point halftime advantage, pushed the lead to 91-54 with 11:45 to play thanks to a 32-12 run to open the second half. Williamson scored nine points during the spree, and Reddish added seven.
The Blue Devils reached 100 points with 7:36 left before coasting home for the victory.
For the game, Duke shot 54.4 percent, including 46.2 percent from 3-point range. The Blue Devils had 38 rebounds, 22 assists and just four turnovers.
Kentucky shot 44.1 percent, but only 23.5 percent from 3-point range. The Wildcats had 37 rebounds, 17 assists and 15 turnovers.
The Blue Devils put the game away early with a 59-point first half. The damage was done with a 23-5 run as Duke jumped out to a 34-13 edge.
Six Duke players got in on the early action, topped by Barrett with seven and Williamson with five.
Duke torched the nets in the first half, hitting 69.2 percent from 3-point range, 9 of 13. The Blue Devils shot 55 percent overall with half the baskets coming off an assist.
Kentucky mounted a mild charge in the first half to cut the deficit from 21 to 12 but could get no closer before intermission as Duke built the lead back to 17 at the break. The Wildcats shot just 40.6 percent in the first half and were only 1 of 10 from 3-point range.
—Field Level Media