Duke's Zion Williamson gets his big play on UCF's Tacko Fall, even if it wasn't a dunk

Much was made of the anticipated battle at the rim between Duke superstar Zion Williamson and 7-6 UCF center Tacko Fall ahead of Sunday’s second-round NCAA tournament matchup.

The matchup — and the game — lived up to the hype and then some.

While Fall kept his vow to prevent Williamson from dunking on him, the game hinged in the final seconds on a pivotal Williamson layup that drew Fall’s fifth foul and set the Blue Devils up for their 77-76 victory.

Scroll to continue with content

Williamson missed the ensuing free throw, but R.J. Barrett grabbed the rebound for what proved to be the game-winning go-ahead bucket as Fall sat on the bench.

“I consider [Mike Krzyzewski] the greatest coach of all-time,” Williamson said. “When he looks at you and tells you that you’re made for this moment, it’s the most confidence you can be given.

"When I went to the basket, I knew it was going in."

He didn't get his dunk, but Zion Williamson's layup on Tacko Fall saved Duke from a stunning 2nd-round upset. (Getty
He didn't get his dunk, but Zion Williamson's layup on Tacko Fall saved Duke from a stunning 2nd-round upset. (Getty

Fall strong throughout game

It was a disappointing finish for Fall and the Knights after an outstanding performance that fell agonizingly short of a stunning upset.

After winning his 33rd opening tip in 33 games this season, Fall quickly put on display the dilemma his size presents for opposing defenses in the game’s early moments.

After seeing his opening hook shot bounce off the rim, Fall casually grabbed the rebound over a pair of Duke defenders for an easy one-handed slam to give the Knights the first bucket of the game.

Williamson answers with 3-pointer

While all eyes were on the post matchup, Williamson opened the game by showing off his range. The first Duke bucket of the game came courtesy of a Williamson 3-pointer.

Williamson worked early to get his post game going, a topic of much discussion after Fall’s vow to not allow Williamson to dunk on him. It was a promise that Las Vegas picked up on by offering odds on whether Zion could put a poster on UCF’s towering center.

Fall shuts down Williamson’s first dunk attempt

Fall lived up to his promise on Williamson’s first effort. And he made the Blue Devils pay on the other end.

But while they might not count for Vegas prop bets, Williamson dunks that aren’t on Fall still count in the box score. And Zion got in a good one late in the first half, showing off his remarkable athleticism to snag a pass from Barrett before flushing it home.

Of course, Fall was on the bench for that one.

Fall keeps dunking in second half

Fall continued his dunking dominance in the second half with his fifth slam of the game.

Duke continually had no answer for his size.

Fall finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks, while hitting 7-of-10 field goal attempts. And he didn’t give up a dunk to Williamson.

But Wiliamson’s layup at the end drawing Fall’s fifth foul proved to be the difference in the game.

Williamson tallied 32 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists in the game, with no play bigger than his final bucket.

March Madness embed image
March Madness embed image

More from Yahoo Sports:

What to Read Next