COLUMBIA, S.C. — Zion Williamson had an explosive NCAA Event debut with 25 factors and a can’t-miss second-half showcase to guide top-seeded Duke to an 85-62 win over North Dakota State on Friday night time.
RJ Barrett led Duke with 26 factors and 14 rebounds and mixed with Williamson for a prolific exhibiting for the freshmen stars. However it was Williamson who couldn’t be contained within the second half and he turned a decent early contest right into a Duke runaway within the first spherical of the East Area.
Duke led simply 31-27 at halftime however Williamson took over after the break. He opened the half by driving on two defenders for a layup that drew a foul. He missed the free throw however Williamson answered with a monster slam.
The spotlight, although, got here moments afterward Williamsson’s breathtaking dribble-behind-his-back-after-chasing-down-his-own-steal layup.
The 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman outran 5-foot-11 190-pound Vinnie Shahid of North Dakota State for the ball after he tipped it for a steal. Williamson then dribbled behind his again, briefly shedding and regaining his stability with a hand on the ground. That cleared room for Williamson to get to the lane and go up and underneath for a layup.
Identical to that, the Blue Devils had been up 40-27 and cruising.
The Bison (19-16) by no means recovered.
Barrett and Williamson gave Duke two gamers with 20 or extra factors of their NCAA Event debut for the primary time since Mark Alarie and Johnny Dawkins did it in 1984.
The Blue Devils (31-5) will face both eighth-seeded VCU or No. 9 seed UCF on Sunday for a spot within the Candy 16.
Shahid led the Bison with 20 factors.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned his crew settled for too many missed bounce pictures early and it gave North Dakota State the possibility to hold round.
As soon as Williamson received going, Duke confirmed why it’s the high total seed on this match and why CBS has devoted a digicam to comply with Williamson’s journey.
Duke was anticipated to select up the place it left off final week when it received its 21st Atlantic Coast Convention Event title. Williamson was electrical within the convention match — he went 13 of 13 from the sphere in a quarterfinal win over Syracuse — and have become the primary freshman to win each ACC participant of the yr and match MVP.
Now on the large stage with the “Zion Cam” monitoring his each transfer, Williamson was lively early with a driving basket and a monster block on the opposite finish.
Then a loopy factor occurred — the Blue Devils struggled to attain. They missed 3-pointers and close-in pictures, mid-range jumpers and driving layups and located themselves trailing the Summit League Event champions 16-12 halfway via the half.
Barrett and Reddish rallied Duke towards the top — Barrett had three straight baskets — and a Jordan Goldwire 3-pointer with a minute left made it 31-27 on the break.
Williamson’s early spotlight got here with the sport tied at 16 as he took a move on the baseline just a few ft from the rim, rose up and put down an influence jam. The sold-out crowd at 18,000-seat Colonial Life Area watched it unfold and drew in a collective breath earlier than exploding on the outcome. Williamson performed highschool basketball in Spartanburg, 90 miles away from his NCAA Event debut.
North Dakota State: The Bison closed the season strongly merely to make the NCAAs. With a 15-15 document earlier than the convention match, the Bison received three straight to win the Summit League Event. They then defeated North Carolina Central 78-74 on Wednesday night time’s First 4 matchup.
Duke: The Blue Devils had a sluggish begin to the primary — and doubtless solely — NCAA Event for a lot of of its freshman stars. However their potential to show up the depth will serve them nicely going ahead, notably in the event that they hope to chase a sixth nationwide title underneath coach Mike Krzyzewski.
North Dakota State’s season is completed.
Duke will transfer on to face eighth-seeded VCU or ninth-seeded UCF on Sunday.