Williamson provides new weapon for Duke against Hokies

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WASHINGTON (WDBJ7) -- Virginia Tech's rematch with No. 1 seed Duke will feature some different faces from the last time the two teams met in February.

First, the Hokies will have senior point guard Justin Robinson back at full strength after he missed 12 games and was eased back into duty during the first two rounds. Robinson missed the Hokies' 77-72 win over the Blue Devils Feb. 26 in Cassell Coliseum. So did another game-changer -- Duke Freshman phenom Zion Williamson.

At 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, Williamson is expected to be the national player of the year and is viewed as a lock as the No. 1 pick of the NBA Draft should he decide to go pro. Basketball pundits and former players like Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics have already said Williamson could be a "top 30 player in the NBA right now."

It's that sort of hype, as well as Williamson's explosiveness, that Virginia Tech will have to overcome to reach the Final Four.

Williamson has averaged 22.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game as a Freshman, and his knee injury turned the No. 1 Blue Devils into a much different team."

"When we played them (in February), I think it was the second full game without No. 1 (Williamson,)" said Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams. "Two games in, I don't think that, schematically, they had changed much."

"I think he's the best player in the country," Williams said.

Still, Virginia Tech's players said the Hokies don't expect to tamper much with what got them to their first Sweet 16 since 1967.

"We're not going to let them get the ball into the paint," said Virginia Tech senior Ahmad Hill. "We're going to make the shoot long, contested threes. We're going to force turnovers, limit our turnovers and get great shots."

The Hokies have had Duke's number of late, winning three of the last four meetings, with all of those wins coming in Cassell Colisuem. A win Friday would put Virginia Tech one win from the Final Four.

Friday's game tips off at 9:39 p.m. on WDBJ7.