Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett Dominant as Duke Demolishes Overmatched Pitt

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2019

Duke's Zion Williamson, left, is fouled by Pittsburgh's Kene Chukwuka as he shoots during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Last week, Duke let its guard down and got upset by unranked Syracuse.

The Blue Devils did not allow a trip to Pittsburgh to share the same fate.

Zion Williamson scored 25 points and RJ Barrett added 26, leading Duke to an easy 79-64 win over Pitt on Tuesday.

Williamson made 11 of his 13 shots in a brilliantly efficient performance while also adding seven rebounds and seven assists. He's scored at least 20 points in five of his last six games.

Pittsburgh shot a fine 41.5 percent from the floor but missed 12 of its 15 threes and turned the ball over 14 times. Trey McGowens scored a team-high 14 points before fouling out.

     

Zion Williamson Is Runaway Favorite for National Player of the Year

It's over.

Just give Zion the award and let's be done with it.

No other person has come close to defining this college basketball season. He is so good, Jay-Z is making random trips to Pittsburgh to see Zion play.

Writers love giving this award to upperclassmen, and there are some fine candidates. Ethan Happ has developed into perhaps the most versatile offensive big man in college basketball. Dedric Lawson has proven every bit worth the wait at Kansas. Markus Howard is this season's Trae Young. Rui Hachimura has had an even bigger breakout season than expected.

It's possible—perhaps even likely—one of those guys will wind up getting the nod. Duke is loaded with talent; your job is a lot easier when you have a supporting cast of Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones. There are going to be people who dock Zion simply because he's on a great team.

That said, what are you going to remember from this college basketball season? Zion. He's the only storyline. He's been so brilliant, NBA legends are advising him to sit out the rest of the season because he's assuredly going to be the No. 1 pick. You can count on one hand how many freshmen have captivated to this level.

The National Player of the Year shouldn't be some career achievement award given to an upperclassman because he stuck around a couple extra years. It should be the best player of that given season.

The best player of this season is Zion Williamson hands down. Barring any unforeseen injury or falling off over the next month-and-a-half, this should be his award to lose.

     

What's Next?

Duke hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday. Pittsburgh travels to No. 23 Louisville.

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