The story of this game is Zion Williamson’s injury. There is no way around it.
It’s an emotional heartbreaker to lose a star early and Duke clearly saw the effects on the court as it fell to North Carolina, 88-72.
Here are seven stats from Wednesday’s game, almost all of which have something to do with Williamson’s absence.
1. Luke Maye took full advantage of Zion Williamson’s absence: Maye has been a very good player over his last two years, but he hasn’t been great against Duke. Coming into Wednesday’s game he was averaging 10.2 points in six career outings against the Blue Devils. Williamson was supposed to guard him in this game and went out with an injury early. Maye then had a career half against Duke scoring 18 points (more than he had ever scored in a game against the team). He would finish with 30 and is now averaging 13 points in his career vs. the Blue Devils.
2. The 3-point shooting in the first half was hideous: When a team does something for the first time in five years it’s pretty significant. Well, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels teamed up for this one, but it’s still pretty crazy. Duke and North Carolina combined to shoot 8.8 percent from 3-point range in the first half (3 of 34). According to Stats by Stats, that is the worst combined 3-point percentage in a half in the last five years (minimum 30 attempts).
3. Painting the town baby blue: Duke came into the game averaging 43.1 points in the paint. Williamson was putting up 15.8 of those. After Zion went out, it took the Blue Devils 6:44 to put up a point in the lane. That’s the longest it has taken Duke all season. It ultimately gave up 62 points in the paint in the loss, as well.
4. Freshmen phenoms: Coming into the game RJ Barrett and Williamson formed possibly the best freshmen duo of the last decade. But it was Barrett and Cam Reddish who led Duke on Wednesday. Barrett (33 points) and Reddish (27 points) were the first pair of freshmen teammates to score at least 20 under Mike Krzyzewski against North Carolina, according to ESPN.
5. Dynamic Duo: Reddish and Barrett may have been great, but Maye and Cam Johnson were almost as good and in a winning effort in a game North Carolina always led comfortably. The two Tar Heels scored 30 and 26 points, respectively, combining for 56 in the win. The 30 points for Maye are the most scored by a Tar Heel vs. Duke in the last 15 years and the 56 combined points is the most by two North Carolina teammates against the Blue Devils in that time, as well.
Zion Williamson injury update: Duke star (knee) will not return vs. North Carolina
6. 72 points: Duke came into the game fourth in the country scoring, 86.4 points per game. It was second in the ACC putting up 80.9 per contest. The Blue Devils scored just 72 points in the loss.
7. 10 percent: The Tar Heels came into the game 21st in the country shooting 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. They shot 10 percent (2 of 20) and still won by 16.
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