• 61°

Tar Heels rip Duke after Williamson goes out

Without Zion, Blue Devils fall to Carolina

Duke’s Marques Bolden (20) and Tre Jones (3) guard North Carolina’s Coby White (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By Joedy McCreary

AP Sports Writer

DURHAM (AP) — Zion Williamson blew out his shoe, and then No. 8 North Carolina blew out top-ranked Duke.

Luke Maye took full advantage of a freak injury to the freshman sensation, finishing with 30 points and 15 rebounds to help the Tar Heels rout Duke 88-72 on Wednesday night.

“Obviously, you lose a national player of the year candidate,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “there are going to be gaps of what you have to do.”

A star-studded crowd that included former President Barack Obama, Spike Lee and Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. packed into Cameron looking for another highlight-filled show from Williamson — arguably the most exciting player in college basketball. But the Atlantic Coast Conference’s second-leading scorer sprained his right knee during the Blue Devils’ opening possession.

“It was just a shock for us,” Duke forward Cameron Reddish said. “Obviously, we’re used to playing with him, so playing without him was very difficult. We missed him today.”

Williamson grabbed the knee in pain after slipping awkwardly and falling when his left Nike shoe fell apart as he planted hard while dribbling near the free throw line. The blue rubber sole ripped loose from the white shoe from the heel to the toes along the outside edge, with Williamson’s foot coming all the way through the large gap.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski classified the injury as a mild sprain, but didn’t know how much time Williamson will miss.

Cameron Johnson added 26 points and Garrison Brooks had 14 for the Tar Heels (21-5, 11-2).

By winning their ninth in 10 games and beating a top-ranked team for the first time since 2013, they pulled into a first-place tie with the Blue Devils (23-3, 11-2).

RJ Barrett matched a season best with 33 points and fellow freshman Reddish added a season-high 27 for Duke — but the rest of the team combined to score just 12.

Duke looked lost without Williamson. Meanwhile, North Carolina took advantage of the Zion-sized hole in the lane, scoring 32 of its first 34 points in the paint and finishing with a 62-28 scoring advantage there. The Tar Heels never trailed, pushed their lead to 22 on Johnson’s layup with about 16 minutes left and held on.

“First, I’m thinking if he’s OK, man,” Maye said. “I don’t want to see somebody get hurt, especially a guy of that caliber, and I hope he makes a quick recovery. But when he goes down, I’m obviously trying to attack — and I was going to do that anyway. I was going to try to get inside and work inside out and just play my game and play the way I know I can play.”

Eight nights after the Blue Devils rallied from 23 down in the final 10 minutes to win at Louisville, they couldn’t come up with another comeback — especially without Williamson.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: This was quite a statement from the Tar Heels, who followed up the most lopsided ACC road victory in school history with a lopsided win at Cameron and their first win over a No. 1 since knocking off Michigan State in December 2013.

“We’ve always had our destiny in front of us,” Maye said.

Duke: The result of the game seems secondary to Williamson’s health, given how much he means to the Blue Devils and their national title hopes. Now the question is how the Blue Devils will handle playing without arguably the biggest star in the sport. Each of Duke’s losses since November came at home after a key freshman was injured early, with point guard Tre Jones’ shoulder injury leading to an overtime loss to Syracuse.

“You go in with your game plan, get into the game, and then 36 seconds in, one of your key guys goes out,” Barrett said. “It was tough for us to bounce back from that, and North Carolina really punched us the whole way through.”

POLL POINTS

This was Duke’s first game since claiming the No. 1 spot for the third time this season, and the Blue Devils brought the top ranking into the rivalry for the first time since J.J. Redick was a senior in 2006. Duke lost that one, too. For the Tar Heels, this was their 14th victory over a No. 1 team — the most of all time — and their eighth against a top-ranked Duke team.

REMATCH

Mark your calendar: These two meet again March 9 in Chapel Hill.

UP NEXT

North Carolina: Hosts No. 16 Florida State on Saturday.

Duke: At Syracuse on Saturday night.

___

More AP college basketball:

Comments

Elections

NC elections board, Republicans at odds over absentee ballot rule changes

News

Voters struggling with witness rules in early voting

News

Trump expected to announce conservative Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Coronavirus

County reports COVID-19 percent positive rate of 8%

Local

Rowan County United Way sets $1.5 million goal at drive-in kickoff event

Crime

Blotter: Adult daughters accused of beating up mother

China Grove

China Grove firefighters injured after engine overturns

Business

Salisbury VA to reopen entry, exit gates

Crime

Sheriff’s Office looking for suspect in Burlington Coat Factory theft

Elections

Requests for absentee ballots top 9,000 in Rowan

Local

Spencer approves supplemental USDA loan for Park Plaza project

Business

11 locals will make up Empire Redevelopment Task Force

Local

New finance director excited to prove himself, continue on path set by predecessor

Coronavirus

County health officials report four new COVID-19 deaths

Elections

Trump promotes health care ‘vision’ at stop in Charlotte but gaps remain

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with stealing mom’s dog

Business

Rowan County hires Howden as new finance director

Local

Exhibit about Jim Crow-era travel on display at NC Transportation Museum

Elections

GOP elections board members resign over absentee settlement

Crime

Drive-by shooting injures 24-year-old Salisbury man

Crime

Highway Patrol: Vehicle fled after striking, killing pedestrian on Camp Road

Local

Locals to be inducted into NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

Business

Fall fun, with a twist: Patterson Farm adjusts to guidelines, offers new version of traditional events

Nation/World

Sayers, Piccolo friendship lives on in ‘Brian’s Song’