INDIANAPOLIS – Kentucky fans flooded the streets and pubs in downtown Indianapolis before they filled Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
But minutes after Zion Williamson cuffed Nick Richard’s shot in midair and threw a dime to RJ Barrett for a shot in transition during the worst and most embarrassing loss of Kentucky coach John Calipari’s career, the Big Blue Nation left the building.
“My nerves were pretty calm,” Williamson says about his attitude to Tuesday’s 118-84 victory and his debut as a college player.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said that he told his players: “I got bored, you were kicked out” after No. 4 Duke directed the other ranked wild cats 118-84 on Tuesday. 19659005] How good was Duke against Kentucky? Dominating enough to move to the top of our power rankings.
Duke is the big Champions Classic root. Our experts preview Blue Devil’s draft outlook and more standouts.
In the Champions Champions Duke Kentucky hit the face. The Blue Devils won 34 points, but it felt like a million. Williamson, Cam Reddish and Barrett – maybe the top three pickups in the next summer NBA draft – combined to get 83 points. Three Jones had seven assists and no turnover.
Duke freshmen, the first recruitment class in America per ESPN, was all we thought they would be – and more. Williamson created enough highlights to demand a separate SportsCenter show. Barrett played as No. 1 pick he is projected to be. Reddish caused unevenness and impressed as well. Jones did it all.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. “You start four beginners, no matter how gifted they are, you never know what to do in this environment against an outstanding team and great program. And they responded. They were amazing.”
Zion Williamson dominated on both ends and showed much more than his highlights-dunks. Andy Lyons / Getty Images
Duke Dominance of Kentucky also added another chapter to Krzyzewski’s new attachment to the single-born talent pole. Yes, Calipari started the trend, but Krzyzewski owns it now.
Tuesday’s win was not a torch but another log on the fire that has been smashed in Duke’s service since Kentyy’s latest national title 2012.  The Kentucky fans flowing through the concourses after Williamson picked Richard’s shot from the air seemed confused, not only stunned by the result.
Like the hell, we just saw and can it be stopped?
Before we analyze the hammer, let’s consider the nail.
This was Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcats. The team that took the 2nd recruiting class in America. The same Kentucky group who saw gold on the show trip to the Bahamas during the summer after adding All-Pac-12 first teamer Reid Travis. Team No. 2 in America.
This is the program that has made four trips to Final Four under Calipari. The wild cats do not get many black eyes. They are joking them out.
Therefore, Duke’s efforts should be in the Champions Classic scary college basketball landscape.
In his debut with the blue devils, RJ Barrett records 33 points as Duke hits Kentucky by 34.
Krzyzewski has installed a program that is designed to excel in a climate which now favors small ball. Villanova has won two of the last three national titles with a lineup that featured ball handlers and shooters in all places.
This season, Duke can use the same formula to chase Krzyzewski’s third national title for the one and the same era. But his little ball line has a potential top five pick on three spots.
Everything begins with Williamson, a Kentucky quagmire because of power as no player at this level can match and ballhandling ability that makes him difficult to defend. Duke outscored Kentucky with 29 points when he was on the floor Tuesday, per ESPN statistic and information tracking.
Calipari said that Williamson’s efforts against Kentyy’s big bodies were unexpected.
“It did not bother him,” he said.
Barrett is just a mature wing that could cross the street to Indiana Pacers training facility and claim a place in the rotation tomorrow. Calipari tried different matchups against him. It did not matter. He did not have a player on his roster who could handle the Canadian star.
“It’s difficult because he’s a physical player and he puts it in the hands of the refs many times, as far as he attacks you and he makes it difficult to protect without fouling and he puts a lot of pressure on the rim,” says Travis about Barrett, which ended 4 to 8 from the free kick.
Reddish took advantage of the space created by his teammate’s success while acting as a disturbing defensive force with four stalks. Jones did not make many mistakes, while Kentyy’s guards made six sales.
This was not a game full of ball shades and sophisticated systems.
Krzyzewski just spread the floor and dared Kentucky to match a collection of top 10 picks.
It is the reality of all teams that will meet this Duke group in 2018-19. The Blue Devils are unique and dangerous everywhere.
Hype promised so much.
At the moment, however, hype seems to have failed to prepare for what this Duke team could be.
It’s the beginning of the season. If Duke continues to dominate how it happened on Tuesday night, we all know how this season ends.
“They are a very good team,” said Calipari. “If they play so, they do not lose many, if it is who they are.”