Things nearly got messy in the first half of the Duke Blue Devils’ matchup with the Syracuse Orange in the ACC tournament on Thursday night. Early on in the game as Duke was beginning to extend their first-half lead, Syracuse guard Frank Howard was caught on camera in a concerning scene. After a big dunk by Zion Williamson, it appeared that Howard tried to trip the young Duke star intentionally.
In what was Williamson’s first game back from injury, all eyes were locked on the freshman phenom. So not surprisingly, the play caused a huge uproar, as Zion stumbled, but fortunately didn’t go down to the ground.
The play grabbed the attention of the halftime analysts and Jay Williams stated that things like this have no place in the game of basketball. This incident came less than eight minutes into the game, and Duke proceeded to jump out to an even bigger lead at various points in the first half. They entered halftime with a 34-28 lead behind Williamson’s excellent half.
Duke’s young star who’s projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft had 21 points with nine rebounds and five steals on 9-of-9 shooting from the field. He showed no signs of rust from his previous injury and came out playing at an elite level from the opening tip.
Zion Williamson’s Knee Injury
The concern was escalated over the above incident considering this was Williamson’s first game back from the knee injury suffered back in mid-February. The setback came against the UNC Tar Heels on a play which has probably been seen on social media or various sports networks more times than you can count.
It was possibly one of the strangest injuries in recent memory, as Zion burst through the side of his shoe just over 30 seconds into the game. He hit the breaks and his foot just ripped through it.
Immediately after the play, the concern level was obviously high, as he was forced back to the locker room and remained there throughout the half until eventually being ruled out. The following day, Duke revealed that Williamson had been diagnosed with a Grade 1 right knee sprain.
Zion Williamson’s Stellar Freshman Season
Heading into the ACC tournament, Williamson played in 26 regular-season games and posted strong numbers across the board. He averaged 21.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. Zion has also shot 68.3 percent from the field, while his outside shooting was one of the lone areas where he didn’t thrive, knocking down 29.2 percent of his attempts from 3-point range.
Not including the game in which he was injured, Williamson missed five games at the end of the year, and as previously mentioned, Thursday’s game marked his return from the knee injury. It’ll be interesting to monitor what the outcome of the apparent trip by Howard is and whether there will be any type of discipline handed down.