Duke's fabulous freshman weren't just ready for their first turn in the spotlight. "They were magnificent tonight".
Grimes scored 21 points in his college debut and Lawson added 20 points in his first game with the Jayhawks, helping Kansas stymie No. 10 Michigan State's late charge for a 92-87 victory in the season-opening Champions Classic. Afterward, Coach John Calipari spoke of his players benefiting from the experience.
"I feel like people in the state, I say they do more (think of it as a rivalry)".
And though Williamson was not the top scorer, contributing 28 points to Barrett's 33, he stole the show, displaying a unique skill set and physicality that has the basketball world drooling.
It's not often under John Calipari that the Kentucky Wildcats are considered the more experienced team in a matchup against another top-5 program, but that's exactly the situation we're faced with as No. 2 Kentucky takes on No. 4 Duke on Tuesday at the 2018 Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
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Duke's newcomers never doubted they could win this convincingly.
"You play bad and win or you play well and lose, this is learning", Calipari said. "I knew it was still somewhat a close game, closer than we had wanted it to and we had turned the ball over a lot, just those extra possessions and extra possessions probably contributed to it". Keldon Johnson led the Cats with 23 points.
But the freshmen made sure this highly-anticipated game was never close.
But Duke closed the half getting easy baskets from Barrett, off a pass from Jones, and Bolden, off a pass from Barrett, to lead 59-42 at intermission.
But the Duke Blue Devils still managed to secure an early season blowout, and it came against the No. 2 team in the country. "I think Bill Self said, 'We didn't count on you shooting the threes, ' so they let me take as many as I did". Great college teams need a big man to power down low, a point guard who can handle and dish, a defensive specialist, a random pasty white guy who can drill threes from the corner at opportune moments.
Zion Williamson did not disappoint in his Duke debut: 28 PTS (11-13 FG) & 7 REB in a 34 PT win over Kentucky!
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The Special One responded to the taunts by holding three fingers up, reminding the away fans his treble at Inter Milan in 2009-10 season.
Kentucky: It was an embarrassing performance for the Wildcats, who weren't physical enough against Williamson and couldn't keep up with Barrett.
Expect another good one on Tuesday as the teams face off against each other with both ranked in the AP Top 10 for the third time. Dotson finished with 16 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals while going 3-5 from beyond the arc.
However, a talented roster doesn't guarantee the Blue Devils will cover against a Kentucky program that is famous for annually fielding its own collection of blue-chip talent. The Wildcats were outscored 60-38 in the paint.
Richards started all 37 games as a freshman last season, but he faltered down the stretch and has his playing time greatly reduced. Tipoff on Tuesday is at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Meanwhile, strong perimeter shooting has been a hallmark of Blue Devil squads for as long as fans can remember. Enjoy the run, because few teams in the future will be able to match up to what we're watching right now. "We have a big target on us", Barrett said.
Kentucky looks to rebound when it returns to Rupp Arena against Southern Illinois on Friday.
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