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Duke star Zion Williamson‘s return to the court Thursday was flawless, though Syracuse’s Frank Howard became the source of controversy in the first half.
Early in Duke’s 84-72 win, Howard stuck his foot out in what seemed like an attempt to trip Williamson:
Syracuse’s Frank Howard appeared to attempt to trip Zion Williamson early in the first half. https://t.co/aNUUebKMXH
When asked about the incident after the game, Howard denied any wrongdoing:
Donna Ditota @DonnaDitota1
Frank on Zion: I was just shown the video. I’m not going to wait 4 years to get to this position to trip somebody. Said he has a lot of respect for Zion.
Howard added the following, per Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com: “He tripped over my foot, and I said, ‘Oh, I was not trying to trip you.’ He was running back, I’m trying to get open. I’m being face-guarded. I didn’t see the whole video, so I don’t even want to answer too many questions about that. There isn’t really much more to talk about.”
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said afterward: “As far as what people were commenting on at halftime, I talked to Frank, I looked at the video; there was no trip involved out there. I don’t know who was talking about that, but it was a bump, and…that’s it. It was nothing there. Trying to manufacture something out of nothing.”
Williamson showed no lingering effects from a knee injury that cost him five games, as the ACC Player of the Year had 29 points, 14 rebounds and five steals on a perfect 13-of-13 shooting.
Controversy aside, Howard did everything in his power to keep Syracuse in the game, leading the Orange with a career-high 28 points.