The ACC tournament got underway today and the Duke Blue Devils got a huge boost from the return of the best player in all of college basketball in the opening round. After missing the last five games with a mild knee sprain, freshman superstar Zion Williamson returned to the line up for Duke just in time to make a run for both a conference and national championship.
The first year forward was absolutely sensational during his debut from being out so long as the Blue Devils took down Syracuse 84-72. He was a perfect 13-13 from the field for 29 points and led the team in rebounds with 14 as he notched a double-double.
He was extremely active on both ends of the court and dominated in the paint. His 24 points in the paint were more than the entire Orange Men team managed to amass collectively. He totaled all five of his rebounds in the first half alone and added in two assists and a block as well.
His return to the hardwood has highlighted by a flurry of dunks, strong defense and saw him even pull up from behind the arc to sink a three-pointer. Williamson played as if he hadn’t missed a single game over the past few weeks and led his team the semifinal round of the tournament where they will see a familiar foe tomorrow night.
The Duke Blue Devils will take on the Tar Heels of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the third time this year after getting sweep by them in their two regular-season contests. Williams suffered his awkward and untimely injury in the team’s most in just the opening minute of one the most highly touted college basketball games in recent memory as celebrities, professional athletes and even former US President Barack Obama were in attendance.
When Williamson went down with the injury, not even a full minute after tipping off, the initial shock of seeing their cornerstone piece on the ground writhing in pain then hobbling off into the locker room not to return proved to be too much to overcome and for his teammates to pull off the win without him.
Duke dropped the first match up to the Tar Heels by nearly 20 points and the second by just nine, and Williams didn’t even play a full minute between the two regular-season bouts combined. He and his teammates will be looking forward to a chance to rectify and avenge those loses when it matters most tomorrow night so that they can advance to the ACC tournament championship game on Saturday and beyond.