Now this is the way to tip off a college basketball season. No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 4 Duke. Two teams many project will be in the national title game, much less the Final Four come late March 2019. Tip-off is set for approximately 9:30 p.m. ESPN has the telecast.
We are here at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and will be providing live updates, analysis and stats throughout the game. You can also follow us on Twitter at @johnclayiv, @jerrytipton, @markcstory and @benrobertshl.
Final: Duke 118, Kentucky 84
Not many left at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Duke leads 107-78 with 3:37 left here in the Champions Classic. R.J. Barrett 33 points for the Blue Devils. An embarrassing loss for Kentucky. Luckily, there is almost an entire season to go.
Duke leads Kentucky 91-56 with 11:02 left
And the Kentucky fans are heading to the exits in droves. Alex O’Connell hit back-to-back threes before the TV timeout. Duke is shooting 57.6 percent from the floor. Devils have made 10 of 18 threes. UK is shooting 38.6 percent. Cats are 1-of-11 from three.
More of the same to start second half
Duke scored first seven points of the second half and now lead Kentucky 72-47 with 15:49 left at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. R.J. Barrett is up to 22 points. Reddish has 19. Williamson has 17. Some Kentucky fans are already heading for the exits.
Halftime: Duke 59, Kentucky 42
That’s the most first half points given up in the Calipari Era. Previous high was 51 by North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic in 2015. UK actually led 56-51 at halftime of that one before going on to a 103-100 victory.
R.J. Barrett led Duke with 20 points in the first half. Zion Williamson scored 13 points and Cameron Reddish added 12 for the Devils, who shot 55 percent from the floor. Duke made six of 12 three-point attempts. Barrett and Reddish made two triples each. Jack White came off the bench to grab seven rebounds.
UK shot just 40.6 percent the first half. And the Cats were but 1-of-10 from three-point range. Keldon Johnson scored 14 points. Reid Travis had eight points and four rebounds. But UK was outscored in the paint 30-22 to go along with the poor perimeter shooting.
Story of the first half: The pure talent of Duke’s heralded three freshmen has topped Kentucky’s experience factor. And UK has to play much better on defense in the second half.
It is Kentucky’s largest halftime deficit since trailing Florida 49-28 in Gainesville on March 8, 2014. UK lost that game 84-65.
Duke’s stars are playing like stars
R.J. Barrett has 16 points. Zion Williamson has 13 points. Cameron Reddish has 10. And Duke leads Kentucky 50-33 with 3:40 left in first half. After UK cut the Blue Devils’ lead to 12, Duke scored on six straight possessions.
Duke is shooting 51.4 percent. The Blue Devils are six-of-11 from beyond the arc. UK is shooting just 39.1 percent. The Cats are but one-of-eight from three-point land. Remember, Kentucky was one-of-13 in exhibition game against Transylvania.
Kentucky trying to inch back into it
The Cats are on a 9-2 run to cut the Duke lead to 36-22 with 7:57 left in first half. Duke has led by as many as 21. UK’s Reid Travis has started to assert himself. He has four points. Keldon Johnson leads the Cats with 10 points. Duke’s R.J. Barrett leads all scorers with 11 points.
Duke is giving Kentucky a first-half spanking
The Blue Devils have extended their lead to 27-10 and will be at the foul line when we come back from the 11:47 TV time. Williamson, Reddish and Barrett -- Duke’s three star freshmen -- all have six points each. The Devils are shooting 57.9 percent from the floor and made four of six three-pointers.
UK looks shell-shocked. The Cats are shooting 30.4 percent and have missed all five of their three-pointers. They are also being outrebounded 12-6 by the Devils.
Duke running away with it 20-8
Blue Devils are on 9-0 run as John Calipari calls time at the 13:20 mark. Kentucky is 0-for-4 from three.
Duke fills it up early for 14-8 lead
The Blue Devils jumped out to an 11-4 lead thanks to three-pointers from Tre Jones, Cameron Reddish and Zion Williamson. UK came back thanks mainly to Keldon Johnson who scored six of the Cats’ first eight points. Another three from Reddish, his second, pushed the Duke lead to 14-8, where it stands at the 15:40 TV time. Duke is 5-of-7 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from three-point range. Hot start.
Starters for Kentucky and Duke
Duke: 1-Williamson; 2-Reddish; 3-Jones; 5-Barrett; 20-Bolden
UK: 2-Hagans; 3-Johnson; 14-Herro; 22-Travis; 25-Washington
Kansas beats Michigan State in first game
No. 1-ranked Kansas beat No. 10 Michigan State 92-87 in the first game here at the Champions Classic. Freshman guard Quentin Grimes led he Jayhawks with 21 points. Dedric Lawson added 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Kansas. Michigan State got 18 points from Joshua Langford.