For the first time this season, No. 1 Duke will play an entire game without freshman star Zion Williamson.
The sprained right knee the 6-7 Williamson suffered in last Wednesday’s 88-72 loss to No. 8 North Carolina will prevent him from playing Saturday night at Syracuse, a Duke spokesman said Saturday morning.
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Williamson, averaging 21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, was injured 36 seconds into the Blue Devils’ game with UNC when his left shoe ruptured, sending him falling to the court in pain. He didn’t return that night.
Williamson also missed the entire second half of Duke’s 80-78 win at Florida State on Jan. 12 after he was poked in the eye and suffered from temporary double vision.
His current injury is diagnosed as a grade one sprain. Normal recovery time is up to two weeks.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Thursday the team’s medical staff will make sure Williamson is 100 percent healthy before he returns to play. Krzyzewski said the main focus is to have Williamson ready for the NCAA tournament while not compromising his future career. Williamson is projected to be a top pick in the June NBA Draft should be turn professional as expected.