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Zion Williamson returned from eye injury, but Duke lost to Syracuse without Cam Reddish, Tre Jones

Coach K talks about Zion Williamson’s injury against Florida State

The standout freshman got poked in the eye late in the first half and didn't play again against the Seminoles
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The standout freshman got poked in the eye late in the first half and didn't play again against the Seminoles

Duke freshman standout Zion Williamson’s vision problems cleared to allow him to play for the top-ranked Blue Devils against Syracuse Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

But Duke played with two other freshmen starters sidelined in Cam Reddish and Tre Jones.

Suffering from an illness, Reddish was of the starting lineup for the first time this season didn’t play as Syracuse beat the Blue Devils 95-91 in overtime.

Jones started against Syracuse but suffered an AC joint separation to his right shoulder with 14:23 to play. The point guard was in the process of recording his fourth steal of the game when he and Syracuse guard Frank Howard crashed to the court. Howard was called for a foul and Jones stayed down in obvious discomfort.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and team trainer Jose Fonseca came to his side. After a few minutes, Jones got to his feet and walked to the locker room. He was holding his right wrist with his left hand and not swinging his right arm as he walked with his head down.

Duke announced that Jones will not return to the game and later said the separated shoulder would sideline him indefinitely.

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“There’s no break although he was in a lot of pain when he was down,” Krzyzewski said Monday night. “And he’s a kid, he’s the toughest kid. Right away he said I don’t know if my collarbone is broken. It was hurting that bad.”

The 6-7 Williamson, averaging 20.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, has started all 15 games this season for the Blue Devils (14-2, 3-1 ACC). He was injured during the first half of Duke’s 80-78 win at Florida State on Saturday and missed the entire second half.

Williamson was being hit in the face by Florida State guard Trent Forrest while Williamson was dribble-driving toward the Blue Devils’ basket with 1:26 left in the first half. No foul was called on the play and Krzyzewski said he didn’t believe the Forrest’s act was an intentional attempt to injure Williamson.

Photographs of the play showed Forrest’s fingers making contact with both of Williamson’s eyes.

Krzyzewski said after Saturday’s game that Williamson suffered from double vision which prevented him from returning to the game. Krzyzewski said the double vision finally cleared up after the game.

That situation didn’t change in the 48 hours between the Florida State and Syracuse games.

Williamson took the court with his teammates for pre-game warmups Monday per his usual routine. After going through stretching exercises, he and the Blue Devils took practice shots from different spots on the court.

Williamson scored 35 points with 10 rebounds and four blocked shots against Syracuse.

Reddish, though, did not take part in Duke’s initial pregame warmups. He came out later for another part of the warmups but was not on the court just prior to tipoff. The hero of the Florida State win, scoring 23 points and making the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.8 of a second left, Reddish became ill with flu-like symptoms as the Blue Devils were leaving the locker room the final time before tipping off against Syracuse.

His status for Saturday’s game with Virginia is unknown.

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An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.

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