One of the greatest games in Duke-North Carolina history was played Friday night.
Duke: This tournament has largely been about Williamson's return from the injury that had sidelined him for almost six full games, and what it means for the Blue Devils going forward.
"He adds a different dimension to their team", UNC's Cam Johnson said of Williamson's return. "Just go back, get back to Charlottesville, get back in the gym and get ready for our next game". "It went my way". But then no one had more bounce than Williamson, who was able to elevate above everyone for the put-back to give Duke a one-point lead with 31 seconds remaining that it would hold for the remainder of the game. White did, however, record five rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Tar Heels, who fell to 27-6 on the season after the loss to Duke.
"I can go back and many times tell you that we have had injuries that really hurt us and Zion being hurt really hurt Duke, but it was still Duke-North Carolina", Williams said. "You just want to win". "His 6'7", 285-pound body coils and recoils like no other athlete playing college basketball, and it nearly makes the viewer believe he can do anything on the court, just because.
"He put on his Superman jersey", UNC coach Roy Williams said. "It's such a blend of strength and power and quickness that we couldn't stop him getting the basketball inside and going to the basket".
"It was tough watching the first two games", Williamson said. Little reached behind him to box out the future No. 1 overall pick, but Williamson had stepped inside to the center of the lane for the rebound and a quick put-back on what would be the game victor. "What could be better?"
Johnson ignited an early North Carolina run with makes on each of his first three shots and shot 5-of-8 in the opening period.
After an off night in the quarterfinals Thursday, Cam Reddish was again quiet in the first half against North Carolina. A third meeting with the Tar Heels and hopefully the first one in which Williamson plays a full game could present all sorts of interesting questions for the committee.
This was a game the Tar Heels led by 13 at one point in the first half when Duke erased the deficit by halftime with the help of an unlikely duo of bench players, Antonio Vrankovic and Jordan Goldwire. RJ Barrett added 15 points, seven assists and eight rebounds for the Blue Devils in that one as well. "The physicality increases, and probably the game even slows down some, and so you've got to knock down shots when you get them". Duke, while obviously much better with Williamson, was clearly one of the country's best teams without him, too.