Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Wednesday night began with the Duke Blue Devils losing star Zion Williamson to an injury and ended with a loss to the rival North Carolina Tar Heels.
The No. 1 Blue Devils lost their brightest star just 36 seconds into the 88-72 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., and never recovered.
Williamson never returned to the game after sustaining a mild right knee sprain. Luke Maye led the Tar Heels with 30 points and 15 rebounds. Cameron Johnson chipped in 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the win. R.J. Barrett scored a game-high 33 points and had 13 rebounds and four assists for the Blue Devils. Cam Reddish had 27 points in the loss.
"I thought we needed to do a better job on the backboards as we did, but be honest, when the big fella goes out of the game it changes a lot of stuff for them. Zion Williamson -- I have never seen anything like him. It was a huge blow for them and having that happen during the course of the game you don't have time to prepare for it. I hated that part of it because I think he's such a wonderful kid. That was a huge blow for them."
No. 8 North Carolina began the game on a 10-3 run and pushed the lead to 13 points in the first half. The Tar Heels owned a 42-32 lead at the break and never trailed the Blue Devils.
North Carolina led by as many as 22 points in the second half and held down the gas pedal to secure the victory.
"We don't know how long [Williamson will] be out. I think we'll find out more about that," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "That's that. It's crazy that the two games we've lost here, something's happened in the first part of the game. The preparation that you would have for the game is obviously based on the players being there, especially [Zion] and RJ [Barrett], who are the key guys.
"It puts everyone in a state of trying to figure it out when you're playing an outstanding team. That's not a good situation."
Duke returns to action against Syracuse at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. North Carolina hosts No. 16 Florida State at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.