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Zion Williamson, Duke Advance to ACC Title with Win vs UNC; RJ Barrett Drops 15 | Bleacher Report



  CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 15: Zion Williamson # 1 of Duke Blue Devils knocks the ball towards North Carolina Takes Heels during their match in the semifinals in 2019 Men's ACC basketball tournament at Spectrum Center on March 15, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Zion Williamson put 31

points on 13-of-19 shots and 11 rebounds-including the game-winning bucket with 31 seconds left as No. 5 Duke beat No. 3 North Carolina 74-73 in Division I ACC Men's Basketball Tournament Semifinals Friday at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

UNC had many chances down the line to take the lead, starting with a Cameron Johnson three-point girl with 17 seconds left.

Duke forward RJ Barrett grabbed the rebound and was fouled, but he missed two free throws. Taking Heels then dismissed the court, but a long Coby White two-pointer and a Johnson tip attempt could not connect.

Johnson scored 23 points for 27-6 Tar Heels, whose eight-match victory ended.

Barrett added 15 points, eight rebounds and seven aids to 28-5 dukes.

Duke's role players will determine Tournament Ceiling

There really is not much more to be said about how incredible Williamson is at game-by-game -basis. The man is simply on track for NBA stardom, and in mid-May the NBA lottery selection show to determine the draft 2019 may have more viewers than the playoff game that follows it.

Lost in the shuffle of a dominant Williamson performance and a clear Game of the Year candidate is the fact that some role players outside Duke's big three played some valuable minutes.

College basketball writer / editor Ray Holloman put it best in several tweets one at the end of the first half and the second postgame:

First, sophomore guard Jordan Goldwire, who has played 17 or more minutes only twice this year: One was in an 84-46 victory over East Michigan, and the other was a 113-49 blow to Stetson.

However, Goldwire never played more than 21 minutes in a game, but somehow he was in court for 28 in the Duchess's main game of the season from now on.

Goldwire did not produce much on the statue with four points, three boards and two steals, but his influence was far more valuable than what could be a number in the story.

Note, he was in the right place at the right time when a loose ball from Barrett's hands fell into Goldwire's possession. Sophomore so quietly hit a layup with 1:46 back to give Duke a 72-71 lead.

In defense, Goldwire did an excellent job stopping the UNC attack after Tar Heels scored 20 points before under 12-half-time-out

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski (via Blue Devil Nation) specifically called Goldwire's defense effort:

Senior center Antonio Vrankovic falls into the same boat as Goldwire. As a sophomore, Vrankovic did not contribute much in the box, with only two points, two helpers and one block. But also as Goldwire, he came up at an appropriate time.

After UNC's senior player Luke Maye hit a jumper to put Tar Heels up 36-30 with 4:27 back in the first half, Vrankovic went to work. During the last 4:05 of the first half, the senior assisted on a Goldwire deuce, made a layup and assisted in a Williamson two. Thanks to Vrankovic's efforts, the Duke erases the half-time gap and entered half-time binding at 44.

The blue devils eventually received a violent UN offense to win with one in a game that had the intensity and drama of a Final Four-matchup. And that would not have happened without Goldwire and Vrankovic.

But Duke needs more from the two (and other Blue Devils, not called Williamson, Barrett or Cam Reddish) to win it all. The best teams in the country have proven that Duke is not invincible, although Williamson seems to be almost every game. Gonzaga, who will be a No. 1 seed, beat Duke. Virginia, who will be a No. 1 seed, almost hit Duke on the road. And UNC did it twice (sans Williamson, admittedly) and did almost the third time Friday.

Simply, the blue devils will need the invaluable performances of role players to beat the best teams in the country.

What's next?

Duke faces Florida State for ACC title Saturday at 8:30 ET.

UNC will discover its NCAA tournament position Sunday in the NCAA Basketball Championship Selection Show beginning at. ET at CBS.

This article is updated to provide more information soon.

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