Trevor Keels, Paolo Banchero Lead No. 9 Duke Past No. 10 Kentucky

Trevor Keels | Photo: Courtesy Duke Athletics

Freshman Trevor Keels scored 25 points and classmate Paolo Banchero added 22 to help No. 9 Duke open the season by beating 10th-ranked Kentucky 79-71 on Tuesday night in the nightcap of the Champions Classic.

The two basketball blue bloods, who have quite the history between them on the game’s biggest stage, put on a spectacular show to open the season. The loud split crowd at Madison Square Garden that included many members of the New York Knicks and Bruce Springsteen was on its feet for most of the second half.

“It was an amazing game that felt so good with the Garden crowd and playing against an outstanding team,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They are tough, and we are tough. That was a big-time game. Really big time.”

Duke, which led by four at the half, built the advantage to 15 with just under 10 minutes left behind Keels. The Wildcats wouldn’t go away, scoring the next 11 points to get within 69-65 on a three-point play by Oscar Tshiebwe with 6:07 left.

That’s as close as Kentucky could get. Keels scored on the Blue Devils’ next possession and Banchero followed with a three-point play after a huge block by sophomore Mark Williams to start a 7-0 run.

Kentucky could only get within eight the rest of the way.

Keels finished 10-of-18 from the floor while Banchero shot 7-of-11 with an 8-of-9 performance from the free throw line. Junior Wendell Moore Jr., added 12 points – including two thunderous dunks – to go with four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Jeremy Roach grabbed a career-high seven boards while Williams had seven of his own with three blocks.

“We wanted to get this win for Coach in this first game,” Banchero said. “We had a chance to make a statement with this game and come out and play well. That’s what we were thinking about coming in.”

Tshiebwe finished with 17 points and 19 rebounds. Sahvir Wheeler added 16 points and 10 assists for the Wildcats.


With this being Krzyzewski’s final game at MSG as coach of the Blue Devils, the Garden front office staff presented his family with a few gifts before tipoff. They made a donation to the Emily K Center and gave him a framed photo mosaic that had more than 300 images from his time at MSG. Finally, they gave him six bottles of wine, each with a custom label from some of his top moments at the Garden, including his 1,000th victory and one from when he was a player for Army and his team played South Carolina at MSG.


Krzyzewski has gone 34-11 at MSG, including winning five of the last six there. The Blue Devils are 39-18 overall at the arena.


The Blue Devils host Army on Friday night in the Duke Veterans Day Weekend Showcase Presented by Ameritas. The game tips at 7 p.m. on ACC Network.

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