Williamson-led Duke hangs on to top UNC, 74-73, to advance to ACC title game


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – MARCH 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game in the semifinals of the 2019 Men’s ACC Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 15, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) – The third iteration of Duke vs. North Carolina – and first to feature Zion Williamson for more than a minute – lived up to the hype. The 31 points and 11 rebounds tilted things in Duke’s favor as the Blue Devils squeaked past the Tar Heels, 74-73, to advance to Saturday’s ACC Championship game against Florida State.

Williamson missed a pair of free throws in the waning moments of the game, but Nassir Little would-be game-winning shot didn’t fall for UNC.

Williamson played less than a minute of the first regular-season game between Duke and UNC. He missed the rest of the regular season before returning in Duke’s quarterfinal win over Syracuse. 

Fans of both teams were forced out of their seats seemingly every minute. Around the midpoint of the second half, Williamson darted under the hoop and delivered a 180-degree dunk only to have his slam answered by one from Cameron Johnson five second later.

A 7-0 surge produced UNC’s first lead of the second half – 65-63 with 8:22 to play in regulation. The two Triangle rivals mimicked one another – Johnson would get a 3-point play at one end only for Williamson to do the same less than a minute later. 

RJ Barrett had 15 points and Tre Jones added 11. Johnson led the Tar Heels with 23 points. Luke Maye had a double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds).

Duke-Florida State tips off Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

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