Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish combined for 75 in a 94-72 win over Army
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils pulled away to beat the Black Knights 94-72 on Sunday behind 27 points and 16 rebounds from Zion Williamson.
Playing five days after routing the second-ranked Wildcats in the Champions Classic , they shot 49 percent but couldn’t shake the Black Knights until the final 10 minutes, finally pulling away with an 11-0 run keyed by 3-pointers from fellow freshmen RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish.
“It’s one thing for somebody to tell you that everybody’s going to bring their best against you, that all their shots are going to feel like they’re going in,” Williamson said. “But I think until you truly experience it, I think you just have to go through it to fully understand.”
Reddish finished with 25 points and Barrett had 23 while Williamson added six blocked shots and four assists for the Blue Devils (2-0).
Coach Mike Krzyzewski called it “a perfect game for us following Kentucky” and said his team’s preparation wasn’t as at a high enough level beforehand.
“That whole thing, the hangover of success and travel and then getting ready” for a game, Krzyzewski said. “The only way you do it is to do it. And our guys don’t feel good about themselves right now. And that’s good. Although they turned it around in the second half, they were in a position to lose the game and they responded, and they responded really well.”
Matt Wilson scored 15 points and Tommy Funk added 12 for Army (1-1), and Funk hit back-to-back 3s to pull the Black Knights to 67-61 with just over 12 minutes left.
Reddish hit a driving layup, and he and Barrett each hit 3s on consecutive possessions to push the lead into double figures for good. Reddish added another 3 to stretch the lead to 78-61 with just over 9 minutes left, and the Blue Devils eventually went up by 20 on Williamson’s stickback with less than four minutes to play.
As dominant as the Blue Devils looked against Kentucky, they looked equally vulnerable during stretches of this one, perhaps proving that college basketball won’t be as easy for these freshmen as they made it look in the Champions Classic. It wound up being another blowout, but there were plenty of teachable moments for Krzyzewski: Duke left far too many perimeter shooters open and too often settled for low-percentage shots — the 36 3-pointers attempted were its most since 2016.
“Today was a learning experience,” Reddish said. “We can’t dwell on any win.”
Duke faces Eastern Michigan on Wednesday in its second home game of the season, and after its stupendous open to the 2018-19 season, it has a chance to play its next game as the No. 1 team in college basketball when it next steps on the floor after the polls come out on Monday.