By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
For the second-time this season, the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils lost a game following an injury to one of its star players. The Blue Devils first lost to the Syracuse Orange when Tre Jones went down.
The No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the No. 1 Blue Devils, 88-72, on Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.
“They’re an outstanding team,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “They played with poise… We didn’t always play well tonight, but we played hard… We will learn from this and move on.”
The game shifted after projected No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson was injured just 36 seconds into the contest. As he was dribbling the ball near the foul line, Williamson slipped and fell to the ground.
He injured his knee on the play and did not return. He also blew through a pair of Nike’s on the play.
Following the game, Krzyzewski said that Williamson suffered a mild knee sprain. He is expected to receive further evaluation on Thursday.
“We’re very concerned about Zion,” he said. “It’s a mild knee sprain. We will know about length of time. It’s stable. Obviously it has an impact. You lose the NPOY on the 1st play.”
This is Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams’ eighth time defeating an Associated Press No. 1 ranked team in his coaching career. That’s the most ever.
He surpassed former Maryland Terrapins head coach Gary Williams, who had seven.
Luke Maye led the Tar Heels with 30 points. He also had 15 rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Maye had his second 30-point performance of the season in this game. He had a season-high 31 points in a 113-96 win over the North Carolina State Wolfpack on Feb. 5.
He was one of three North Carolina players, who scored in double-digits. Cameron Johnson had 26 points and Garrison Brooks had 14 points.
The Tar Heels had seven bench points. Seventh Woods led the bench with five points, one rebound, three assists, and two steals.
RJ Barrett led the Blue Devils with 33 points. He also had 13 rebounds, four assists, and one block.
Barrett tied his career-high with 33 points in this game. He also had 33 points against then-No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats on Nov. 6 in a 118-84 win.
The 33-point performance broke Jabari Parker’s record for most points by a freshman in a Duke/UNC game at Cameron.
Barrett was one of two Duke players, who scored in double-figures. Cam Reddish also scored 27 points.
The Blue Devils scored nine bench points. Javin DeLaurier had six points with four rebounds, three steals, and one block.
“Everyone be honest, when the big fella goes out the game, it changes a lot of stuff for them,” Williams said. “Zion Williamson, I’ve never seen anybody like him. That was a huge blow for them. And having that happen during the game, you don’t have time to prepare for it. I hated that part, because I think he’s such a wonderful kid. It was a huge blow for them at that time, no question.”