Mark Story

Instant analysis: Who’s up, who’s down after Kentucky’s 118-84 loss to Duke

Instant analysis from No. 2 Kentucky’s 118-84 loss to No. 4 Duke:

How the game was won

Duke’s heralded freshmen RJ Barrett (33 points), Zion Williamson (28 points) and Cam Reddish (22 points) made a scintillating college hoops debut and the No. 4 Blue Devils turned a 59-41 halftime lead into a 118-84 throttling of No. 2 Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Game balls

1. RJ Barrett. Wow.

2. Zion Williamson. Wow.

3. Cam Reddish. Wow.

4. Jeff Capel. The former Duke ace recruiter, now the head coach at Pittsburgh, left the Blue Devils with a breathtaking bounty of talent.

5. Mike Krzyzewski. When the Duke coach decided to enter the one-and-done fray, he did not go half way.

6. Kentucky fans. Until the game got completely out of hand, the UK crowd was in March form.

Running suicide drills

1. The Kentucky Wildcats men’s hoops program. On a big national stage, albeit in November, it was an all-systems failure of the kind you don’t see that often from UK.

Key number(s)

4-4. Kentucky is now 4-4 in Champions Classic Games — 2-1 vs. Kansas, 1-1 vs. Michigan State and 1-2 vs. Duke. The other teams’ records in the Champions Classic are: Duke 5-3, Kansas 4-4 and Michigan State 3-5.

The ‘Cat-mosphere’

Kentucky fans dominated the crowd. Duke received hearty boos when the Blue Devils took the court. Heck, any Duke fan shown on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse giant video boards drew boos. ... The latest College Football Playoff rankings were revealed at Bankers Life Fieldhouse between games. After losing last week to Georgia, Kentucky dropped only two spots, down to No. 11 from No. 9. ... The Duke Blue Devils mascot wore a piece of tape on its head which read “I Still Love Laettner.” ... With their team down by more than 30 in the second half, Kentucky fans started leaving with more than 14 minutes left in the game.

Looking ahead

Kentucky will face Southern Illinois in its 2018-19 regular-season home opener in Rupp Arena on Friday night at 7 p.m. in a game broadcast on the SEC Network. It will be the season opener for Coach Barry Hinson’s Salukis, who went 20-13 last season, including losses at Louisville (84-42) and Murray State (81-73).

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory


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