However minutes after Zion Williamson cuffed Nick Richards‘ shot in midair and threw a dime to RJ Barrett for a bucket in transition in the course of the worst — and most embarrassing — lack of Kentucky coach John Calipari’s profession, Large Blue Nation left the constructing.
“My nerves have been fairly calm,” Williamson mentioned about his angle coming into Tuesday’s 118-84 victory and his debut as a university participant.
Within the Champions Traditional, Duke punched Kentucky within the face. The Blue Devils gained by 34 factors, however it felt like 1,000,000. Williamson, Cam Reddish and Barrett — maybe the highest three picks in subsequent summer time’s NBA draft — mixed to attain 83 factors. Tre Jones had seven assists and no turnovers.
The Duke freshmen, the No. 1 recruiting class in America per ESPN, have been the whole lot we might imagined they’d be — and extra. Williamson created sufficient highlights to demand a separate SportsCenter present. Barrett performed just like the No. 1 choose he is projected to be. Reddish triggered mismatches and impressed, too. Jones made all of it stream.
“I am actually happy with my guys,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned. “You begin 4 freshmen, irrespective of how gifted they’re, you by no means know what they will do on this surroundings in opposition to an excellent staff and nice program. And so they responded. They have been magnificent.”
Duke’s dominance of Kentucky additionally added one other chapter to Krzyzewski’s current stronghold on the one-and-done expertise pool. Sure, Calipari began the development, however Krzyzewski now owns it.
Tuesday’s win wasn’t a passing of the torch however yet one more go online the hearth that has smoldered in Duke’s favor since Kentucky’s most up-to-date nationwide title in 2012.
These Kentucky followers who streamed by way of the concourses after Williamson plucked Richards’ shot from the air appeared perplexed, not simply surprised by the consequence.
Like, what the hell did we simply watch, and may or not it’s stopped?
Earlier than we analyze the hammer, let’s contemplate the nail.
This was Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcats. The staff that drew the No. 2 recruiting class in America. The identical Kentucky squad that regarded golden on its exhibition journey to the Bahamas over the summer time after including all-Pac-12 first-teamer Reid Travis. The No. 2 staff in America.
That is this system that has made 4 journeys to the Remaining 4 beneath Calipari. The Wildcats do not get many black eyes. They dish them out.
That is why the benefit of Duke’s effort within the Champions Traditional ought to terrify the faculty basketball panorama.
In his debut with the Blue Devils, RJ Barrett data 33 factors as Duke beats Kentucky by 34.
Krzyzewski has assembled a program that is geared up to excel in a local weather that now favors small ball. Villanova has gained two of the previous three nationwide titles with a lineup that featured ball handlers and shooters at each spot.
This season, Duke may use the identical formulation to chase Krzyzewski’s third nationwide title of the one-and-done period. However his small-ball lineup incorporates a potential top-five choose at three spots.
All of it begins with Williamson, a quagmire for Kentucky due to energy that no participant at this stage can match and ballhandling capacity that makes him troublesome to defend. Duke outscored Kentucky by 29 factors when he was on the ground Tuesday, per ESPN Stats & Info monitoring.
Calipari mentioned Williamson’s effort in opposition to Kentucky’s huge our bodies was sudden.
“It did not trouble him,” he mentioned.
Barrett is only a mature wing who may go throughout the road to the Indiana Pacers’ observe facility and declare a spot within the rotation tomorrow. Calipari tried completely different matchups in opposition to him. It did not matter. He did not have a participant on his roster who may deal with the Canadian star.
“It is troublesome as a result of he is a bodily participant and he places it up within the ref’s palms plenty of the occasions, so far as the way in which he is attacking you and he makes it troublesome to protect with out fouling and he places plenty of stress on the rim,” Travis mentioned about Barrett, who completed 4-for-Eight from the free throw line.
Reddish took benefit of the area created by his teammates’ success whereas additionally appearing as a disruptive defensive power with 4 steals. Jones did not make many errors, whereas Kentucky’s guards dedicated six turnovers.
This was not a recreation stuffed with ball screens and complicated schemes.
Krzyzewski simply unfold the ground and dared Kentucky to match up in opposition to a set of top-10 picks.
That is the truth for any staff that may face this Duke squad in 2018-19. The Blue Devils are distinctive and harmful all over the place.
The hype promised as a lot.
Proper now, nevertheless, it seems the hype may need failed to arrange us for what this Duke staff may grow to be.
It is the start of the season. If Duke continues to dominate the way in which it did Tuesday evening, everyone knows how this season will finish.
“They’re an excellent staff,” Calipari mentioned. “In the event that they play like that, they don’t seem to be shedding many, if that is who they’re.”