Zion Williamson: Duke vs. UNC Rivalry Lived Up to Hype After ACC Semifinal Win

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 16, 2019

Duke's Zion Williamson (1) reacts after a dunk as North Carolina's Garrison Brooks (15) looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Zion Williamson got his first real experience of the Duke-UNC rivalry Friday as he led the Blue Devils to a 74-73 ACC tournament semifinal win over the Tar Heels at Spectrum Center thanks to 31 points and 11 rebounds.

After the game, Williamson said that the rivalry "exceeded my expectations." Steve Reed of the Associated Press provided video of his reaction:

Steve Reed @SteveReedAP

Zion Williamson on playing (finally) a full game in UNC-Duke rivalry. https://t.co/OOZ9ukHuP1

Williamson played just 36 seconds of Duke's first regular-season game against UNC on Feb. 20 after suffering a knee sprain. That injury kept him off the court for the remainder of the regular season, which included another matchup with the Tar Heels.

The 6'7", 285-pound forward wasn't denied an opportunity to play a full game against UNC a third time, however, and contributed his patented array of highlights.

None were more impressive than this steal and dunk:

ESPN @espn

Zion threw down a thunderous dunk ⚡️ ... and it looks and sounds even better from @NewYorkLife's Above The Rim cam on the ESPN App. https://t.co/UnROtDFdQD

And none were more clutch than this game-winning putback layup with 30.3 seconds remaining:

ESPN @espn

Zion just willed this into the bucket 😳 https://t.co/G4FESRoKTU

Williamson and the Blue Devils could conceivably face the Tar Heels again in the men's NCAA tournament, but before then, the team has to face Florida State in the ACC tournament championship on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.