When even five-time NCAA champion coach Mike Krzyzewski is surprised at how ridiculously good his team is on opening night, it puts into perspective just how mind-blowing Duke looked in its 34-point win against Kentucky on Tuesday night
“You start four freshmen, no matter how talented they are, you never know what they’re going to do in this environment against an outstanding team and great program. And they responded,” Krzyzewski told reporters after the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
Boy did they.
The Blue Devils’ elite freshmen were everything as advertised – and then some. The three-headed monster of R.J. Barrett (33 points), Zion Williamson (28 points) and Cam Reddish (22 points) combined for 83 of Duke’s 118 points.
But the stat sheet only tells half the story. It was how these teenagers introduced themselves to the college basketball world. Barrett, who has ample international experience playing for Canada, got to the basket at will and used his versatility and smooth lefty stroke to shred Kentucky’s defense. Williamson, a dunking folk hero before Tuesday night, proved he’s more than just an athletic specimen and a pretty darn complete player – poignantly evidenced with a monstrous block and then pinpoint bounce pass to Barrett.