Duke, UNC deliver a trilogy fight that lives up to the hype

Even in defeat Tar Heels believe they’re worthy of a No. 1 seed

Even in defeat Tar Heels believe they’re worthy of a No. 1 seed

With everyone salivating over Duke (with Zion Williamson, finally) facing North Carolina ("Frankly my dear") in the ACC tournament semifinals on Friday, it should be noted that the Blue Devils and Tar Heels have played 22 times in the tournament.

"That is just my competitive spirit", Williamson said of the tip-in. "Just go back, get back to Charlottesville, get back in the gym and get ready for our next game". "It went my way".

In the win over the Tar Heels, Duke's Zion Williamson led the charge with 31 points and 11 rebounds. "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 came through in a huge moment Friday, prompting UNC coach Roy Williams to say Williamson "put on his Superman jersey again and was incredible". "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". Duke went on to beat N.C. State in the title game and reached the Final Four for the third time in four years under Bubas.

Zion Williamson-you may have heard of him-tore through his shoe and sprained his right knee within the first 30 seconds of the first Duke-UNC matchup and ultimately missed six games.

Coby White had a chance to win it for North Carolina at the buzzer, but his contested jumper banged off the rim and Nassir Little's follow up attempt was off the mark.

That sent Duke's bench into celebration and leaving a disappointed White crouching at midcourt in an arena filled with a buzzing instate crowd. Williamson had another big game, but the Blue Devils also got sparks from spot-duty reserves like Jordan Goldwire and Antonio Vrankovic while Javin DeLaurier's work on the boards kept Duke in it early as UNC was in full sprint by the opening tip. 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?"

North Carolina led by 13 in the first half and 71-67 with less than three minutes left but couldn't hold on. Zion Williamson's emphatic return against Syracuse on Thursday night, announced with a steal and a tomahawk dunk a little more than two minutes into the game, puts the Blue Devils very much back in play for a top seed.

The Tar Heels shot just 40 percent, including 4 of 27 from 3-point range, against Duke's aggressive defense that played tough after UNC landed an early flurry for the lead.

Barrett chipped in 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists but was five of 15 from the field. "(Barrett) and Zion weren't as exhausted", said Krzyzewski, noting Duke's greatest flaw without Williamson for those six games, "because they were ... instead of giving energy to a teammate, they were getting energy from a teammate".

"I mean it was tough watching the first two (Duke-UNC) games, wishing I could go to war with them", said Williamson, who was hurt in the opening minute of the first meeting February 20.

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