Zion Williamson won’t play for Duke against UNC

Zion Williamson will not play when No. 4 Duke battles No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday night.

After Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski expressed doubt on Friday that Williamson would be available for the game, the school announced Saturday morning that Williamson will be sidelined for a fifth consecutive game.

The 6-7, 285-pound Williamson, a national player of the year candidate who averages 21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, last played in Duke’s 88-72 loss to UNC at Cameron Indoor Stadium. That night, he left the game just 36 seconds after the opening tip when his left shoe ruptured and his right knee twisted while he made a pivot move with the ball.

No. 4 Duke has played the last four games with Williamson out of uniform, sitting on the bench in street clothes. The Blue Devils (26-4, 14-3 ACC) have gone 3-1 in those games, beating Syracuse (75-65), Miami (87-57) and Wake Forest (71-70) while losing to Virginia Tech (77-72).

The day after Williamson suffered the injury, he was diagnosed with a mild (grade one) sprain of his right knee. He embarked on a four-stage rehabilitation process, entering the final stage earlier this week.

Krzyzewski said Williamson’s progress during practice Thursday removed all doubt that he would be ready for Duke’s first ACC tournament game on March 14.

“(It) was pretty exciting really, to see him move and have confidence in his movements,” Krzyzewski said Friday.

Williamson participated in practice on Friday. After the teams shoot-around at Duke Saturday morning, the decision was announced that he will miss the regular-season finale.

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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.