CHARLOTTE, NC – It was not difficult for Roy Williams to rethink what had changed between the first two matches of his team with Duke, which ended with dominating victories in North Carolina and what happened on Friday night with Blue Devils, who have lost 74-73 victories, may have replaced the NCAA first seed contract.
"The man who was hurt is back," Williams said, "put a trick on Superman and it was amazing."
The "man" in this case will be Zion Williamson, and North Carolina has heard his share of him before he goes to court. The first game against Tar Heels and the freshman's absence overshadowed the victory for UNC's signature. Three weeks later he made the regular final at Chapel Hill and dominated again. So the question got up: will the UNC still be the best team with Duke in full force?
Victory on Friday offered some answer, but neither Williams or the other caps were ready to say with confidence.
"He adds a different dimension to his team," Johnson of UNC told Williamson's return. "He does a lot of things he does not have without him, so he changes the way they play offense, but they put the same kind of sets, and we have the same kind of pictures we wanted as the first two games He's a great player and he but he was not our focus. "
North Carolina (27-6) certainly had chances to win even with Williamson on court, an opportunity to push his most hated rival for the third time this season and a chance to wipe out the cloud that is holding in its first two wins. Johnson shot 3 with the remaining 1
Still, Williamson's influence was something that bordered on the transcendent. In the first two games, Duke (28-5) gathered only 58 points in the paint. With Williamson, who occupies prime real estate on Friday, Blue Devils have had 50 – most UNC has allowed in a game for eight years, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Williamson finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds – the first player to play 25-10 line in consecutive ACC tournament games by Tim Duncan 22 years ago. His theft, which led to a monstrous immersion, was a turning point in the game. His last bucket, after pulling out his own Miss, was the difference in the end result. His work at the end of the court made Duke a different team.
"He is able to open it a lot, and at the defensive end," said Blue Jones son of the Devil. "He is able to guard everyone when we change, and he's always on board, he's just flying around."
Williamson helped hide Cam Reddish, who was minus 11 for the five-reel game. And his success in the paint overshadowed RJ Barrett's 5 nights of shooting. There could have been two Barrett misses on the free kick line with 12 seconds to play that defined the game. Instead, his decision is to refuse a game designed for him and Williamson's meal for the end points of the game, which turned out to be crucial.
Duke now takes Florida on Saturday for a chance for the title of AAC. The Blue Devils have only one loss with their full start five on the court, and this makes a strong argument for the NCAA Election Commission to put them on the frontline and send them to Columbia, South Carolina – just down the road. from the home town of Williamson in Spartanburg.
Or perhaps the first two games against UNC without Williamson still bear the weight in the committee. Williams made this case after losing on Friday, noting that "injuries are part of him."
And after Friday's Friday fight, maybe the final decision on which team is better will be made after another re-run in the NCAA
Honestly, if we compete with them, it will be great play, "Williamson said," But I will not sit here and say, "Oh God, I hope we can let them go again." I'm not starting any extra drama. "