Kentucky Finally Stops Tennessee, Duke Gets Big Performances, All-Star Saturday Night

Jonathan Grant | February 17th, 2019

Previously 23-1 (and 11-0 in the SEC) Tennessee traveled to Rupp Arena on Saturday night to face the Kentucky Wildcats, and the Volunteers did not get the warmest of greetings. For the #5 Wildcats, this was a chance to show why they deserved to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. What better way than to knock off the #1 team in the country, a team that many felt would not lose in the SEC at all? Furthermore, this was a chance to keep a streak alive. Under John Calipari, the Wildcats had never lost two straight home games. They looked like a team with a chip on their shoulders, coming out and just delivering blow after blow and plenty of bruises to the Volunteers on the night. They never seemed to give Tennessee an easy look, and the physical approach paid off as they pulled away earlier in the second half to a lead that they wouldn’t be caught by. In the end, they won 86-69, leading many to chant and state that UT are indeed overrated. Maybe, just maybe they are. Or maybe it had something to do with playing a top five team away. We’ve seen plenty of other good teams fall in that situation in the past. PJ Washington led all scorers with 23 points, while Keldon Johnson had 19. Each helped them get off to strong starts that led to a fairly comfortable victory in the end over the Vols.

A Sea of Blue

The team that stands to gain the most from the Kentucky win appears to be the Duke Blue Devils, who had been waiting for a slip up for seemingly forever. They’ve finally gotten it, and they look likely candidates to move up from second to first in the national rankings as a result. Saturday also saw them come up with a huge win, theirs coming against North Carolina State. Zion Williamson scored 32 points in their dominant 94-78 home win, but it RJ Barrett who stole the show on the day. Barrett became just the fourth Duke player to post a triple-double, providing ten assists, 11 rebounds, and 23 points to the cause. Oh, and he did it all without a single turnover, too. Simply astounding stuff, and it shows why the pair are so highly thought of and are projected to be the one and two picks in the NBA Draft.

Speaking of the NBA, Saturday night was a wild one that few saw coming. The Dunk Contest might not be the same as it used to be for many people, but it was still entertaining nonetheless, with Hamidou Diallo winning the crown after a captivating dunk in which he jumped over the top of Shaq and then hung his elbow in the rim. The three-point contest got a huge boost by adding the notoriety of Steph Curry, who was expected to take the win. However, Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets, the second best shooter from deep in the league percentage-wise, ended up defeating Curry and Buddy Hield in the final round to win as an unlikely hero. It shocked the crowd, but should it have really all that much?

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