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Zion Williamson Returns in Style, Leading Duke to Victory Over Syracuse

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the primary time since his left sneaker break up open 30 seconds after tipoff of a recreation ultimate month, the Duke celebrity Zion Williamson took the court docket on Thursday night time, serving to his workforce to an 84-72 victory over Syracuse within the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Convention match.

Appearing no indicators of the knee damage sustained when his shoe exploded, Williamson ruled the sport, scoring 29 issues as he made all 13 of his photographs from the sphere. He additionally had 14 rebounds, 5 steals and a block.

“I come able to kill each and every recreation,” Williamson instructed ESPN after the sport.

He persevered with this theme later in a information convention and brushed aside tips, which arose after the damage, that he would possibly now not go back to the Duke lineup and would as an alternative rehabilitate his knee and simply get ready for the N.B.A. draft in June.

“Everyone has their proper to their very own opinion,” he mentioned, “however I knew I used to be coming again the entire time.”

Duke (27-Five), which struggled in Williamson’s absence, will meet its archrivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels (27-Five), in a Friday semifinal. The third-ranked Tar Heels have received this season’s two earlier matchups towards the No. Five Blue Devils, even though Williamson neglected lots of the first showdown — when his Nike sneaker got here aside — and the entire 2nd.

Williamson received the outlet tip-off and scored the Blue Devils’ first issues on an inside of layup. Slightly two mins had long gone by means of when he introduced Duke lovers in attendance to their toes, intercepting a Syracuse go and taking it all of the option to the opposite finish for a thunderous dunk.

Later there used to be any other steal-and-dunk. And 9 rebounds. And 5 steals. And that used to be simply within the first part, when Williamson led all gamers with 21 issues on Nine-for-Nine taking pictures.

As Syracuse saved the sport shut in the second one part, Williamson saved refusing to pass over, whilst appearing very important power on protection.

And in the event you have been questioning: Williamson wore Nikes on Thursday, a fashion named for the Boston Celtics celebrity Kyrie Irving, who performed one season at Duke. The sneaker that break up used to be a Paul George signature Nike.

“The sneakers have been fantastic this recreation,” Williamson mentioned in a while.

Duke announced hours before Thursday’s game that Williamson would return towards Syracuse (now 20-13), which had crushed Duke in Durham, N.C., at a time when the Blue Devils’ celebrity used to be wholesome.

With Williamson at complete power and even just about it, Duke must be a favourite to win the nationwide championship, which might be its first since 2015 and the 6th of Trainer Mike Krzyzewski’s profession.

Duke could also be just about a lock to be no not up to a No. 2 seed within the nationwide match bracket, even though by the point the sphere is introduced on Sunday, the choice committee would possibly have extrapolated Duke’s energy with a wholesome Williamson ahead and slotted it as a best seed.

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