Zion Williamson Returns: Duke Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Syracuse
Duke Blue Devils superstar forward Zion Williamson is expected to return for tonight’s ACC Tournament quarterfinals game against the Syracuse Orange.
Williamson hasn’t played since February 20, when he suffered a Grade 1 knee sprain after his foot went through the bottom of his shoe just over 30 seconds into Duke’s 88-72 home loss against North Carolina.
The Blue Devils went just 3-3 without him, including two losses against North Carolina and they haven’t played well. Duke lost 79-70 at North Carolina last Saturday and Marques Bolden went down to his own knee injury.
Freshmen RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish carried the load of the offense and a Barrett 3-pointer even put the game as close as 75-70 with 2:19 left.
Barrett scored 26 points in the setback and Cam Reddish added 23 points (just six after halftime) but Duke shot just 23.0 percent from the field in the second half.
Duke Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Syracuse
*Notates expected starter
C: Javin DeLaurier*
PF: Zion Williamson*, Antonio Vrankovic
SF: Cam Reddish*, Jack White
SG: RJ Barrett*, Alex O’Connell
PG: Tre Jones*, Jordan Goldwire
Duke and North Carolina, the ACC Tournament’s second seed, could meet for the third time this season on Friday if the two teams win their Thursday quarterfinal games. It would be their third consecutive meeting in the ACC Tournament semifinals.
The Blue Devils will be without 6-11 junior center Marques Bolden in the ACC Tournament. Bolden suffered a sprained left knee in the opening minutes of Saturday’s game. He started 21 of Duke’s 31 games and he leads the team with 55 blocked shots.
Bolden’s absence means that 6-10 junior forward Javin DeLaurier and senior 7-0 center Antonio Vrankovic will be Duke’s healthy big men for the ACC Tournament.
DeLaurier has made nine starts this season and he’s been a solid defender as of late, blocking 15 shots in the last seven games, including four at North Carolina last Saturday.
Williamson’s return also gives Duke a boost in the paint. He’s averaging 8.8 rebounds and he’s second on the team with 48 blocks. Williamson averaged 21.6 points while shooting 68.3 percent from the field in 28.2 minutes over 26 games.
Duke and Syracuse split their two regular season meetings. The Orange won 95-91 in overtime at Duke on January 14, when Cam Reddish was out sick and Tre Jones missed most of the game with a separated shoulder after his collision with Syracuse’s Frank Howard.
Duke won the rematch 75-65 at the Carrier Dome on February 23, without Williamson.
Syracuse leading scorer Tyus Battle could miss tonight’s game. He didn’t play in Syracuse’s 73-59 win against Pittsburgh last night because of a bruised back suffered at Clemson last Saturday.
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