Zion vs. Tacko: Tournament’s most dynamic player meets its tallest player
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tacko Fall really hopes the UCF-Duke NCAA Tournament game is not all about the Knights’ 7-foot-6 center and the Blue Devils’ explosive freshman star Zion Williamson.
Sorry, Tacko, it’s way too late for that with excitement strong for the East Region’s marquee matchup Sunday between college basketball’s tallest player (Fall) vs. its most dynamic performer (Williamson).
“Obviously, it’s very exciting,” said Fall, a full 11 inches taller than Williamson. “You got a guy who’s 7-6. You got a guy who’s a freak athlete, very talented. But at the end of the day, it’s a ballgame. It’s basketball. We can’t make it bigger than what it really is. I don’t want it to be like a freak show between Zion and I.”
Already, Fall has pledged to stand tall and not let Williamson dunk on him.
Challenge accepted, sort of.
“What is he supposed to say?” Williamson responded. “He said the right thing.”
Count on both players continuing what has them a step away from the Sweet 16.
Fall, a senior, had 13 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks in helping UCF (24-8) to its first NCAA victory, 73-58, over eighth-seeded VCU on Friday.
Williamson had 25 points and put on a dazzling, dominant show in the second half to lift Duke (30-5) to an 85-62 victory over North Dakota State.
Williamson knows Fall, with an armspan of 8 feet, 4 inches, will be a hurdle like none the Blue Devils have faced.
“I got a lot of respect for him because for him to be that size and be able to move the way he does and have as much skill as he does, he’s a great player,” Williamson said.
Fall will do all he can to do what most other opponents haven’t this season: limit Williamson’s effectiveness down low.
“I’m going to be out there and be aggressive and be the (rim) protector that I am,” Fall said. “Zion is, obviously, a very talented kid, great kid.”
But, Fall continued, “He’s going to do his job, and I’m going to do my job and whatever happens, happens.”