The Duke Blue Devils and Kentucky Wildcats met up for their season openers in the 2018 edition of the State Farm Champions Classic. Since 2011, when the competition began, Duke and Kentucky both have one win against each other. Duke beat Kentucky 118-84 Tuesday night.
The matchup marked the debuts of several exciting prospects, including the high-flying Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. The Duke trio didn’t disappoint, with Williamson putting up 28, Barrett scoring a game-high 33 and Reddish adding 22.
Barrett was the No. 1-ranked recruit in the Class of 2018, followed by Williamson at No. 2 and Reddish at No. 3.
Zion Williamson did not disappoint in his Duke debut: 28 PTS (11-13 FG) & 7 REB in a 34 PT win over Kentucky!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 7, 2018
Including Duke freshman Tre Jones, who scored 6 points, Duke’s freshmen outscored the entire Kentucky team 89-84. In the end, the Blue Devils won comfortably by a score of 118-84. Duke outscored Kentucky 59-42 in both halves.
Keeping it close
Looking at the box score, Kentucky hung with Duke in several categories. Kentucky had 37 rebounds to Duke’s 38 and 17 assists to Duke’s 22. The Wildcats even outperformed Duke in blocks, 5-3. However, where the difference became obvious was in total shots, steals and turnovers.
Where Kentucky fell short
Duke had 20 more field-goal attempts in the game, shooting 43-79 to Kentucky’s 26-59 from the field. For steals, Kentucky only managed one in the entire game, while Duke grabbed 10. The most telling statistic from the game, however, is the turnover differential. Kentucky turned the ball over 15 times compared to Duke’s four.
In addition, the Wildcats were one-dimensional on offense. They had no threat from distance, scoring four of 17 shots behind the arch.
Kentucky’s top performer
Kentucky freshman Keldon Johnson had himself a decent game despite his team’s struggles. He put up 23 points, four rebounds, two assists, one block and the only steal for the Wildcats in the game.
Keldon Johnson looks like a man on a mission tonight. No surprise going head to head with Duke freshmen ranked higher than him.
— Jon Hale (@JonHale_CJ) November 7, 2018
Johnson was ranked No. 7 in the recruiting class of 2018.
Kentucky’s next game takes place Friday against Southern Illinois, while Duke plays Sunday against Army.