Injury will sideline Duke’s Zion Williamson at Syracuse

Zion Williamson injured as Duke falls to North Carolina

Check out photos from UNC's win over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC Wednesday night, Feb. 20, 2019.
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Check out photos from UNC's win over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC Wednesday night, Feb. 20, 2019.

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.

Injured Duke freshman star Zion Williamson arrives at Carrier Dome on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, for the Blue Devils' game with Syracuse. Williamson will not play due to a sprained knee. He is walking without crutches.

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.

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Duke freshman RJ Barrett spoke to his injured teammate and roommate, Zion Williamson, after Duke's 88-72 loss to North Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Williamson has a sprained knee.

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.