Duke can sur­vive with­out Zion

Star big man missed the 2nd half of Satur­day’s game with eye in­jury.


Duke walked in the rest of col­lege bas­ket­ball’s shoes on Satur­day, liv­ing life with­out Zion Wil­liamson.

That the No. 1-ranked Blue Devils won any­way is a tes­ta­ment to their tal­ent. That Duke came back in the sec­ond half, with Wil­liamson out with an eye in­jury, to win, 80-78, at No. 13 Flor­ida State and quiet the Tucker Cen­ter crowd is a tes­ta­ment to its tough­ness.

“With the crowd like that as much as it is against us,” Duke fresh­man point guard Tre Jones said. “I feel like it pre­pares us for mo­ments at the end of the year when we just need to come to­gether as a team no mat­ter what’s hap­pen­ing out there.”

This wasn’t just one player Duke was miss­ing. The 6-foot7 Wil­liamson is play­ing like a first-team, all-amer­i­can who has a good chance to be the No. 1 over­all pick in June’s NBA draft. He av­er­ages 20.3 points and 9.4 re­bounds per game. He leads Duke with 31 steals and is sec­ond on the team with 26 blocked shots.

“It’s a big loss,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “For this game, are you kid­ding? Es­pe­cially with the ath­leti­cism we were fac­ing.”

Duke hosts Syra­cuse tonight in an­other ACC matchup, and Wil­liamson’s sta­tus is un­cer­tain.

Wil­liamson was in­jured with 1:26 left in the first half when Flor­ida State guard Trent For­rest gouged his face with his fin­gers, hit­ting him in both eyes while try­ing to de­fend the big­ger Wil­liamson. The con­tact to the left eye was the most dam­ag­ing, leav­ing Wil­liamson with dou­ble vi­sion.

It never cleared dur­ing the sec­ond half, and he didn’t play after half­time.


Flor­ida State’s Trent For­rest, right, gets his hand in the face of Duke’s Zion Wil­liamson dur­ing Satur­day’s game.

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