Another Duke-North Carolina spectacle is punctuated by Zion Williamson’s athletic brilliance

March 16 at 3:01 AM

CHARLOTTE – When Duke’s 74-73 gasp over North Carolina on Friday night in an ACC tournament semifinal wedges its way into the memory banks of its 20,116 witnesses and starts primping for the retelling, maybe a 42-second sequence of the second half will rate above all.

Maybe those 42 seconds will outpace the frantic closing seconds, when North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson missed a three-point shot with 18 seconds left that he felt sure felt true, and then Duke’s RJ Barrett missed two free throws with two clangs with 12 seconds left, and then North Carolina’s thrilling Coby White missed a hard fadeaway near the final horn to close the action. Maybe those 32 seconds will override by somewhat the fact that 18-year-old Zion Williamson, the Duke Superman who has enthralled the country, scored with 31 seconds left on an emphatic drive, a miss and an even more emphatic rebound and putback.

[Another early exit: Virginia has no answer for athletic Florida State]

Long after Duke finishes playing Florida State on Saturday night in the title game, those 42 seconds could live on, because they told of the outrageous urgency of a game technically meaningless (both teams head for the NCAA tournament next week) yet truthfully heaving and screaming with meaning (it was Duke-North Carolina), just as they told of the spectacle of watching Williamson, the South Carolinian come to play in North Carolina’s favorite long-running spectacle. Maybe they defined this thing long before North Carolina Coach Roy Williams said, “It’s hard right now because our kids really fought like crazy, but they won and that’s the bottom line today.”

The 42 seconds began at the 10:35 mark, when Williamson made a reverse left-handed dunk to give Duke a 59-56 lead long after it trailed 33-20 and Williamson started bailing it out of that. It was not Williamson’s most rule-the-world dunk of the night or of his one and probably only college season. It did not form the most memorable of his 31 points. But it did reveal a bit of his otherworldly dexterity for a 285-pound person, and it did wind up with the big fellow spilled tellingly on the floor.

North Carolina inbounded the ball, and within five seconds it produced something staggering, an utmost turn of the speed it prefers. Garrison Brooks threw it in. White dribbled it once, just once. White delivered it up the court on the left to Brandon Robinson. Robinson caught it and redirected it immediately to Johnson.

Johnson jammed it, and the break had happened so fast it felt hard to process, and the number of dribbles in the entire break had been one, and the arena felt like basketball paradise.

[George Washington fires basketball coach Maurice Joseph after three seasons]

It had more to go.

About 33 seconds more, and North Carolina tried a routine pass out on the perimeter. It did not allow for the fact that a 6-foot-8, 285-pound human with …read more

Source:: Daily times


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