Zion Williamson's go-ahead basket helps Duke beat North Carolina in thriller

Eric HeYahoo Sports Contributor
Duke prevailed over North Carolina in a thriller on Friday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Duke prevailed over North Carolina in a thriller on Friday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Duke and North Carolina met for the third time this season in the ACC tournament semifinal in Charlotte on Friday, and it was every bit worth the hype. It was Zion Williamson and Duke that prevailed, 74-73, to send the Blue Devils to the championship game against Florida State on Saturday.

With the score tied at halftime, the two teams went back-and-forth at a frenetic rate. Duke trailed 73-72 with under a minute to play, but Williamson scored the go-ahead basket, following his own miss off a spin move to the paint.

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Coby White missed a potential game-winning jumper and Nassir Little could not follow on a tip at the buzzer, ending the game.

North Carolina had won the previous two games, but they came with a big asterisk, as Duke’s Zion Williamson infamously injured his knee seconds into the first meeting.

Williamson, who was perfect on Thursday against Syracuse when he shot 13-for-13 for 29 points, finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

Duke appeared to gain separation with an 8-2 spurt out of the gate in the second half, and with Zion doing Zion things:

But North Carolina responded with a 7-0 spurt to regain the lead, 65-63. Cam Johnson’s 23 points led the Tar Heels.

Williamson had 16 points in the first half, knocking down two 3-pointers along with a few dunks to shoot 6-of-10 from the field.

The game started at a breakneck pace as North Carolina, the third-highest scoring team in the nation, built a 13-point lead in the first half. But Duke rallied to even the score at the half, making six of its last seven field goals, four of which came from deep after starting 0-for-7 from beyond-the-arc.

Johnson scored the Tar Heels’ first 8 points and had 16 at the half to match Williamson.

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