The Duke Blue Devils lost 68-67 to the Michigan State Spartans
Coach K failed when his team most needed his guidance, and let RJ Barrett, rather than generational talent Zion Williamson, attempt to lead Duke to victory. This was a tragic mistake for the Blue Devils.
Duke lost three games with Zion Williamson in the lineup this year.— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) March 31, 2019
RJ Barrett went ***0-for-9*** in the final minute of those three games. The rest of the team had three total shots. Zion had one.
Duke went scoreless from the field in the last 1:44, after Williamson scored on a layup for his last field goal attempt of the contest. Even as Duke was outscored 5-1 after Williamson's layup, their failure to get the ball to him when it counted most cost them the game and a chance at a title down the road.
Barrett is a fine player--universally viewed as a top-3 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but letting him throw up bricks in crunch time when you have pound-for-pound the best college basketball player we've seen in years of the roster is inexcusable. RJ is still developing, and the holes in his game were exposed against Michigan State. Williamson, meanwhile, already looks like an NBA All-Star in the making.
As shaky as Zion has been at the line, he would've made both free throws that RJ did not. Zion probably would've and-1ed it. Wrong guy had the ball in the end. Zion should've demanded it. He has the take-over gene.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) March 31, 2019
Duke looked mortal with Williamson off the floor, and in the Tournament when games slow down and teams have time to prepare for their opponent's greatest asset, Duke was unprepared to deal with life without Zion. It's a theme we've witnessed all year long, and it finally caught up to Duke, even when they controlled their own destiny.