The NCAA classic between the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels ended as every big college game should. With one play deciding the whole event.
Last night, Zion Williams’ tip-in after his own miss turned out to be the most important moment of the game. The future No.1 pick brought the lead to his team who manage to defend the last attack of UNC.
Eventually, Duke won, 74-73.
But that wasn’t the only reason why this guy stood above all others in this contest. He simply destroyed North Carolina in both ways, avenging those two defeats Tar Heels inflicted upon his Blue Devils while he was out.
“The guy that’s been hurt came back, and put on his Superman jersey again, and it was incredible.”
That is how coach Roy Williams explained his view of Zion’s performance last night.
The 18-year old was unstoppable in every aspect of the game. After sitting the first two games against the Tar Heels, because of an injury picked up following a bizarre shoe incident, Williamson was pumped up for this clash.
He ended the night with 31 points, 11 boards, and excellent shooting performance, hitting 13 of his 19 field goal attempts.
Having a chance to face UNC motivated him a lot. Both of the previous two contests his Duke played against No.3 seed, ended with defeats, and the only thing he could do at the time is to stand aside and watch.
“It was tough watching the first two games,” Williamson said after the game. “I watched my brothers out there battling, and I wished I could go to war with them, but it was very exciting to get out there and play. I mean the rivalry lived up to what I expected it to be.”
But North Carolina could have won this one despite the fact that Williamson played. They had the last shot for the win, that is two last shots.
Coby White missed a downtown jumper, and after that Cameron Johnson grabbed the ball, but his layup wasn’t good.
Previously, Tar Heels had a 13-point lead in the first half, 33-20, but allowed for the Blue Devils to come back and tie the result before hitting the locker room for a break.
After that, neither of the teams could make some big lead, and they mostly played bucket for bucket until the very end.
UNC had a 4-point edge with 2:46 until the end. Luke Maye who was limited in the offense, scored a layup to put his team ahead. But quickly enough Williamson replied with a three-point play on the other side.
He scored 9 of Duke’s last 11 points, and that is how big of an influence he has on the game.
“It’s just my competitive spirit, I always want to win,” Zion commented after the game.
RJ Barrett didn’t have his usual scoring night and the guard delivered just 15 points, shooting 2 of 9 from behind the three-point line. But, when looking at other columns, 8 rebounds and 7 assists with 2 blocks are signalizing that his contribution was still big.
With the Tar Heels, Cameron Johnson dropped 23 points, while Luke Maye had his first encounter with Williamson ended with only 14 points. However, he somewhat controlled the Blue Devils’ rebounding, with 13 grabbed boards, 6 of them offensive.
Awful shooting behind the arc cost North Carolina dearly in this one, because they made only 4 of their 27 attempts. Against Duke, that is something unacceptable.
Up next, Mike Krzyzewski and the boys play against Florida State in the finals of the ACC tournament. The Seminoles made a huge sensation and eliminated No.2 Virginia Cavaliers, who were projected to reach the finals without too much trouble.
The game will be played tonight at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write, read, and bet on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a betting tips writer at WagerBop.