Zion Williamson will sit his second straight game tonight due to his sprained knee.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski confirmed this on Monday’s media conference call, meaning the No. 1 recruit last year will miss tonight’s tilt with No. 20 Virginia Tech.
The star freshman left the Blue Devils’ loss versus rival North Carolina on Feb. 20 after his right shoe gave out 33 seconds into the game. It caused a Grade 1 knee sprain, forcing him to miss the road win over Syracuse the following Saturday. He is considered day to day and the program has not given a timetable for his return.
Williamson has been one of the best players in college basketball. Heavy.com projects him to go No. 1 in the NBA Draft, meaning he would team up with last year’s top pick in Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton. He’s averaging 21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, while also swatting 1.8 shots a contest.
His 75.3 percent rate on twos in ranked No. 5 nationally per Ken Pomeroy.
Krzyzewski has so far deflected rumors that Duke is considering shutting down Williamson. The Duke head coach says that Williamson is itching to return, but at the right time.
“There’s just a protocol that we have to go through to make sure he’s completely ready [to play],” said the Duke head coach. “We’re not rushing anything, so that’s why we said day-to-day because it’s literally day-to-day.”
“He doesn’t like being injured. It’s an injury you can get over in a shorter period of time.”
With Williamson sidelined, fellow freshman and former 5-star R.J. Barrett racked up 30 points on 14-of-20 shooting and chipped in seven assists to lead Duke to the 75-65 victory at Syracuse. Sophomore guard Alex O’Connell added a career-high 20 points and connected on five of his eight 3-point attempts in the Blue Devils’ victory.
The Blue Devils (24-3, 12-2 ACC) are in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Virginia for first place in the conference standings. Virginia Tech (21-6, 10-5 ACC) is tied for fourth alongside Florida State.
The Hokies tip-off against the Blue Devils at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN. This is their only meeting of the regular season with Duke. Buzz William’s team is 0-3 against Virginia and North Carolina, losing by an average of 16.3 points.
They topped the then fifth-ranked Blue Devils 64-63 last February at home, helping clinch a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Nickiell Alexander-Walker, then a freshman, led the way with 17 points and Chris Clarke tipped in a basket with less than 5 seconds to play.
After the trip to Blacksburg, Duke returns to Cameron Indoor Saturday against Miami.