<
>

Coach K: Zion better but can't rush star back

play
Is Duke a lock for a No. 1 seed without Zion Williamson? (1:41)

Jay Williams says Duke's résumé is "closer to a No. 1 seed no matter what," while Seth Greenberg believes the Blue Devils are not quite a lock yet. (1:41)

DURHAM, N.C. -- Zion Williamson missed his third straight game Saturday, and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said "we can't and we won't" put the star freshman back on the court until he's 100 percent healthy.

Williamson, the Blue Devils' leader in rebounding, blocks and steals and their second-leading scorer, suffered a Grade 1 knee sprain on the first possession of No. 3 Duke's loss to North Carolina two weeks ago.

Krzyzewski said Williamson wasn't close to playing in Saturday's 87-57 win over Miami, and that the freshman's combination of size and athleticism requires his knee to be fully healed before he tests it in a game situation.

"There aren't people like him athletically," Krzyzewski said. "His body has always responded instinctively to what his mind and heart feel. We've seen it. You can't put him out there at any less than [100 percent]."

Krzyzewski said Williamson "is moving around" but hasn't done any contact drills so far, a required step before returning to the court. Williamson was in a polo shirt and sweatpants for the game, standing with teammates during the shootaround, and offering chest bumps and applause on the sideline.

"It's getting better," Krzyzewski said of the injury.

The dominant win reduced some of the concern that came with a 1-2 Duke stretch played almost entirely without Williamson entering Saturday. After struggling in the paint and in transition against Virginia Tech on Tuesday, the Blue Devils had an 18-10 edge on fast-break chances, a 45-29 edge in rebounding, and a 58-32 differential in the paint against Miami.

Chalk that up to a distinct personnel advantage even without Williamson, but Krzyzewski also said the success is a result of a team finding a new identity.

"We were able to get some time to practice, and we did some things that were good for this team without Zion," he said. "We incorporated Cameron [Reddish] and we had a little time to personalize the offense for them."

Reddish and RJ Barrett each had 19 points, and Marques Bolden added 15 in the win. Barrett added 10 rebounds and seven assists, too, a standout game with his godfather, former NBA MVP Steve Nash, on hand to watch the action.

"We had to learn each other, really," Reddish said. "Some of the lineups we've had, we didn't know each other much because we were so used to having Zion."