Wednesday nights college basketball game between Duke and longtime rival North Carolina was one of the most anticipated games of the season. Anytime the two proud programs play fans are treated to an excellent game. With the talent Duke has on the roster this year, tickets were selling for Super Bowl prices.
But then the guy everyone wanted to see the most, Duke freshman Zion Williamson, got hurt seconds into the game.
The injury occurred 36 seconds into the game. Right when Williamson tried to plant his left foot to make a move to his right, the shoe on his left had a blowout. He ended up slipping, falling to the court, and then clutched his knee.
He was able to walk off the court on his own before heading back to the locker room for a better examination. He was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game.
After the game, Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters that Williamson’s knee was stable and that he had suffered a mild knee sprain. He couldn’t say how long he would be out, but they expect to find out more on Thursday.
“We’re very concerned about Zion,” he said after the game. “It’s a mild knee sprain. We will know about the length of time tomorrow. It’s stable.”
As could be expected, the Blue Devils struggled without Williamson on the floor, and North Carolina made a point to take advantage of his absence. The Tar Heels lived in the paint scoring 32 of their first 34 points in the paint and outscored the Blue Devils there, 62-28.
North Carolina never trailed, led by ten at the half, and led by as many as 22 in the second. They went on to win easily, 88-72.
The 16-point win is the most lopsided for North Carolina on Duke’s home court since they won by 20 back in 1989. It is also their first win over a No. 1 team since they beat Michigan State back in December 2013.
R.J. Barrett did what he could to carry the Blue Devils with a season-high 33-points to go with 13 rebounds and four assists. Cameron Reddish did his best to help out with a new season high as well, 27 points.
The rest of the team managed just 12.
Winning the game would have been nice, but the concern now is how long the Blue Devils will have to play without Williamson. Depending on the severity of the sprain, he could easily be out for two to four weeks.
So, they could get him back before the NCAA Tournament begins March 19 or shortly after.