No. 2 Kentucky was never really in the game against No. 4 Duke on Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis falling 118-84.
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.
The Blue Devils started the second half with a Avery Williamson post move and a Cam Reddish three pointer. Coach Calipari quickly called timeout.
Duke kept it going after the TO. A Montgomery bad pass led to a Reddish steal and slam. Keldon Johnson made up for that with a UK steal that led to a P.J. Washington slam. But Duke went on a 6-2 run with Barrett getting a lay-up. Duke led 72-47 with 15:49 left in the game.
Duke made it a 31 point lead as Zion Williamson led the break and had a tough bounce pass to Barrett for the lay-up and he was fouled. 78-47 Blue Devils.
Duke goes on to win 118-84. The 34 point loss is the worst in the John Calipari era.
UK was led by Keldon Johnson’s 23 while Reid Travis had 22 and 7 rebounds and Tyler Herro had some late buckets to finish with 14.
Duke was led by Barrett, who had 33 points in his debut, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Zion Williamson added 28 points, 7 rebounds and Cam Reddish had 22.
The Wildcats return to Lexington to play their home opener on Friday against Southern Illinois at 7:00 PM.