INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — RJ Barrett scored 33 points and Zion Williamson added 28 in an explosive debut by Duke’s touted freshmen, and the fourth-ranked Blue Devils beat No. 2 Kentucky 118-84 on Tuesday night in the season-opening Champions Classic.
Both Barrett and Williamson surpassed Marvin Bagley III’s program record for points by a freshman in his debut at 25. Cam Reddish added 22 points and Tre Jones had six, giving Duke’s freshmen a combined 89 points — more than Kentucky’s entire team.
“We weren’t surprised we were winning by so much,” Barrett said. “We know what we have. We see it every day.”
It was the most lopsided defeat in coach John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky and marked the eighth time in 10 meetings the Blue Devils have beaten the Wildcats.
The teams set a Classic record for most combined points, set hours earlier in No. 1 Kansas’ 92-87 victory over No. 10 Michigan State.
Keldon Johnson scored 23 points to lead Kentucky. Graduate transfer Reid Travis added 22 for the Wildcats, who had won all nine previous season openers under Calipari.
The highly-anticipated game between two of the nation’s most successful college programs was never close. Duke led by 10 after six minutes and extended the lead to 34-13 less than 10 minutes into the game.
“If that’s who they are, they’re not going to lose many games,” Calipari said.
The Blue Devils didn’t stop with that flurry.
After making it 59-42 at halftime, Duke kept pulling away throughout the second half. Barrett’s dunk with 16:11 remaining made it 72-47, Alex O’Connell’s 3-pointer with 11:45 remaining made it 91-54 and Duke topped the 100-point mark on another dunk by Barrett with 7:36 left.
Kentucky only got as close as 27 until the waning moments.
Barrett was 13 of 26 from the field while Williamson was 11 of 13 with seven rebounds.
Kentucky: It was an embarrassing performance for the Wildcats, who weren’t physical enough against Williamson and couldn’t keep up with Barrett. Most teams don’t have that kind of combination, but it’s clear Kentucky needs to improve dramatically to keep up with the nation’s top teams.
Duke: The Blue Devils seem to have it all — athletes, scorers, defenders and rebounders. Still, you can bet coach Mike Krzyzewski will try to fix his team’s flaws and make Duke an even more difficult matchup.
Kentucky: Tyler Herro was the only other player to reach double figures. He finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists. ... Kentucky shot 44 percent from the field but allowed the Blue Devils to shoot 54 percent. ... The Wildcats were outscored 60-38 in the paint. ... The game marked the first time Kentucky faced a ranked opponent in a season opener since a 79-71 overtime loss to Clemson in 1995.
Duke: The Blue Devils only committed four turnovers compared with Kentucky’s 15. ... Duke improved to 12-2 all-time in Indianapolis and 3-0 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. ... The Blue Devils have won 19 consecutive openers.
Kentucky looks to rebound when it returns to Rupp Arena against Southern Illinois on Friday.
Duke hosts Krzyzewski’s alma mater, Army, on Sunday.