It was a tough opener for both teams at #2 Kentucky and #4 Duke met in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
UK would start P.J. Washington, Reid Travis and three freshmen, Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson.
The Blue Devils had a fast start thanks to three pointers from Tre Jones and Cam Reddish. But Keldon Johnson was on from the go for Kentucky hitting a lay-in, floater and a long two in transition. At the first media timeout, the Wildcats trailed 4-8.
Duke came out with a flurry of points. Tre Jones had a layup in transition, Marques Bolden had a rebound, putback and was fouled and R.J. Barrett had a slam on the break. UK trailed 20-8. After Tyler Herro free throws, Zion Williamson had a bucket and one, Jack White had a tip in and Barrett had an and one. The Blue Devils built a 27-10 lead.
Duke came out with a steal and Williamson on the finish for the slam. UK got it going. Johnson would hit a lay-up, Washington hit a three pointer and Keldon and Travis hit free throws to cut the lead to 34-29. A Travis and one would have UK down 36-22 at the under 8 minute timeout.
After a Keldon Johnson driving lay-up, UK was down just 12 when Barrett got a lay-in and three pointer. Williamson then had a drive, free throw and long two to give the Blue Devils a 50-33 lead with under four to play.
E.J. Montgomery would come on for Kentucky to score six quick points, two put-backs and a lay-up. Cats were down just 54-41. But, Duke got a free throw and alley-oop lay-in by Barrett for a 57-41 advantage.
Duke would lead 59-42 at the half with R.J. Barrett leading the way with 20 points. UK was led by Keldon Johnson’s 14 while Reid Travis had 8 and 4 rebounds. UK shot 1-10 from three point range and 15-21 from the free throw line.