Duke's destruction of Kentucky is even more impressive when you dive into the numbers.
Duke’s 118–84 dismantling of Kentucky in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night was impressive enough to anyone watching, but a deeper dive into the numbers reveals just how unique a night it was. When you factor in the opponent, the Blue Devils’ youth and the fact that it was the first game of the season, it's clear that this was a historic performance that likely points toward quite a big year ahead in Durham.
Here are the craziest stats and numbers to come out of the opening night blowout:
• The 34-point loss was the largest of Wildcats coach John Calipari's career. Per Katie Sharp, it was the worst margin of defeat suffered by an AP top-two team since 1951.
• Duke’s all-freshman “Big Three” of R.J. Barrett (33 points), Zion Williamson (28 points) and Cam Reddish (22 points) combined to score 83 points—only one point fewer than Kentucky’s entire team had on the night.
• Duke had just four turnovers on the night, coughing it up on only 4.9% of its possessions. (Kentucky, for context, turned it over on 18.3%). It was the lowest rate of any of the 188 Division I teams that played D-I opponents on Tuesday night, per kenpom.com.
• The 1.44 points per possession that the Blue Devils scored were more than Duke had in all but two of its games last season—and those came against mid-majors Evansville and St. Francis (PA). The highest PPP that Duke posted against a non-Pittsburgh power conference team in all of 2017–18 was 1.32, against Indiana. In fact, even champion Villanova, which had the most efficient offense in the nation last season, only beat the 1.44 PPP Duke posted against Kentucky once—in a 1.46 PPP showing against Creighton.
• On the flip side, the 1.44 PPP allowed by Kentucky was the Wildcats’ worst showing in the kenpom.com era (since 2002), eclipsing the 1.35 PPP given up in a 30-point loss to Tennessee back in February 2013.
• Duke scored 59 points in both the first and the second half—last season, the only time it achieved that many points in a half was a 71-point first-half showing against St. Francis (PA).
• In eight years of the Champions Classic, this was the first time any team reached the century mark. Duke notched its 100th point of the night with a whopping 7:38 still to play, and the 118 points it finished with smashed the previous record of 94 (set by Kansas, against Duke, back in 2013). It also edged out ’14–15 Kentucky for the largest Champions Classic margin of victory, overtaking the Wildcats’ 32-point 2014 win over the Jayhawks. That Kentucky team did not suffer its first loss of the year until the Final Four.
• Playing in his first career game, Duke point guard Tre Jones dished out seven assists and didn’t turn the ball over once. He was one of just five Division I players who had at least seven assists with no TOs on opening night, and the only freshman of those five.
• Zion Williamson's 28 points came in just 23 minutes of action, and he missed just two of 13 attempts from the field. Altogether, he posted the highest offensive rating (164) of anyone on either side in the game, per kenpom.com.