INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Zion Williamson and fourth-ranked Duke were well on their way to a blowout victory when the high-flying freshman blocked a shot to start yet another Blue Devil fastbreak. He attacked the basket off dribble-drives and either finished at the rim or kicked the ball out to open teammates.
Duke's fabulous freshman weren't just ready for their first turn in the spotlight.
"They're a very confident group, and they're very talented, but also our upperclassmen have gotten better, so it's a nice mix", Krzyzewski said.
The Wildcats' graduate transfer forward had the same look of shock and awe that nearly everyone in attendance Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse wore on their faces in the aftermath of No. 4 Duke's 118-84 rout of No. 2 Kentucky in the highly anticipated season opener for both teams.
Kentucky's sophomores were expected to give the Cats a big experience edge coming into this game, but PJ Washington, Quade Green and Nick Richards struggled throughout the night. "I'm really proud of my guys", Coach K said. Barrett had a game-high 33 points in 32 minutes on 13-of-26 shooting from the field, including a 3-of-7 mark from downtown.
Duke won for the eighth time in 10 meetings between two of the nation's four winningest programs, and this time handed coach John Calipari his most lopsided loss since taking the job a decade ago. "We know what we have".
But the freshmen made sure this highly-anticipated game was never close. Duke used an 18-2 run to take a 29-10 lead and, in retrospect, the game was basically over at that point. That allowed Kentucky to climb back as close as 12 points.
BTW - if you didn't see the game last night (shame on you) we got Zion highlights below. told you they were ridiculous. "I haven't lost faith in my guys". They needed their two-best defenders on Barrett and Williamson, and their point guard needed to guard Tre Jones - we'll get to him in a second - which left Tyler Herro to try and slow down Reddish.
It was a total and complete annihilation, the likes that we rarely see when two top five teams take the floor, and in that same building on Tuesday night, it was hard not to think of that Kentucky win as the Wildcats found the shoe on the other foot. Most teams don't have that kind of combination, but it's clear Kentucky needs to improve dramatically to keep up with the nation's top teams.
But we need to pump the brakes on the Blue Devils for a moment. But he didn't play like it against Duke in the first half.
38-37 - Duke rebounding advantage, including a game-high 11 by reserve forward Jack White.
Starting four freshmen, Duke shot 54 percent while making 12 3-pointers. They combined for 83 points on the night, nearly outscoring the Wildcats' entire roster.
This wasn't the way Reid Travis envisioned his first official game unfolding when he transferred to Kentucky this summer.