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Duke Humiliates Kentucky By 34 In Championship Classic

In boxing terms, this was peak Tyson. Duke just ate Kentucky alive.

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State Farm Champions Classic
 INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 06: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates against the Kentucky Wildcats during the State Farm Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 6, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Okay, folks settle down. Duke isn’t going to go 40-0, R.J. Barrett can’t really go into a phone booth and come out with a giant S on his chest and somebody, somewhere is going to slow down Duke and make them play a half-court game.

And it’s November. Really early November, in fact.

But if you had Duke by 34, well, I hope you use your powers for good.

Duke’s 118-84 demolition of Kentucky may have been the Blue Tsunami we’ve all been hearing about. Duke jumped on Kentucky early and often and never really let up. It is the biggest margin of defeat of John Calipari’s Kentucky tenure.

Consider a warning shot fired across the bow of college hoops.

Some of the early scores simply defy belief. Duke never trailed. It was sort of close at 11-8 but a 9-0 run made it 20-8, then it was 29-10, then it became a video game.

We all knew Duke’s young stars had the ability to explode at any time. But what impressed me more is how they never really let a more experienced Kentucky team put together any kind of sustained run.

It got kinda, maybe, sorta interesting at 38-26. But Duke regrouped with barely a hint of duress, stretching the halftime score to 59-42.

Fifty-nine points at halftime. Against the second-ranked team in the country.

Kentucky never got the margin under 17 at any time during the second half.

Interestingly, the second half was also 59-42.

It’s too late—or too early--for any kind of detailed dissection. Duke simply outplayed the Wildcats in every measurable. Duke shot better, defended better, passed better.

And four turnovers. Seriously? Against 22 assists.

Duke answered every question posed in the preseason. The trio of top-five freshmen combined for 83 points, outscoring Kentucky for most of the game. Add 13 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals and you have a stat sheet royally stuffed.

Tre Jones, the fourth freshman starter, had six assists without a turnover, a line any point guard would die for. Remember, this is a freshman playing his first real game, on the road, in a huge arena.

Three-point shooting? Try 12-for-26 on for size.

Six different Blue Devils knocked down a three-pointer.

Depth? The narrative was that Kentucky’s deep bench would run Duke into the ground. But Duke’s bench outscored Kentucky’s 22-15, outrebounded them 18-10. Marques Bolden defended at a high level, while Jack White was a whirling dervish, nine points and 11 rebounds. Alex O’Connell was more than solid.

There were too many fouls and Duke ended the game with four players at four fouls.

I had to find something.

Of course, this might have been better had it not happened in the middle of the night-at least on the east coast—on a night when the NCAA curiously decided to open the season on the same night when the most high-profile mid-term election in decades was contested.

Maybe Calipari fixed it that way, so fewer people would watch it.

Of course, college basketball always shows up in the middle of college football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, MLS playoffs, NASCAR and all those European football leagues that the youngsters seem to be fond of.

So, you’re forgiven if you’ve got that, if-it’s-Tuesday-it-must-be-Belgium feeling.

That’s a structural problem that can’t really be fixed.

But the people who found their way to ESPN saw confirmation that—apologies to Pete Townshend—the kids are indeed alright.

As long as they remember it’s still November and a season is a lifetime.

Lots of work to do. But it’s hard to imagine a better start.


Player of the game vs. Kentucky

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    RJ Barrett
    (367 votes)
  • 18%
    Zion Williamson
    (148 votes)
  • 2%
    Cam Reddish
    (18 votes)
  • 3%
    Tre Jones
    (26 votes)
  • 1%
    Marques Bolden
    (13 votes)
  • 25%
    Jack White
    (205 votes)
  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Antonio Vrankovic
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Justin Robinson
    (3 votes)
790 votes total Vote Now

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