Duke Basketball: Zion Williamson partially descends to Earth in Maui

(Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
(Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images) /

Zion Williamson’s play didn’t make Duke basketball fans spring from their couch on Monday — except for one windmill in transition off his own steal, of course — but even though his stats and highlights resembled less a video game and more the real world, the freshman’s presence was still irreplaceable.

At the moment, it looks as if Duke basketball freshman Zion Williamson may be at least partially from this planet.

No longer is he shooting over 80 percent from the field. Nope, after a human-like 5-for-11 shooting performance during the top-ranked 4-0 Blue Devils’ 90-64 blowout over San Diego State on Monday in the opening round of the Maui Invitational, the 6-foot-7, 285-pound power forward has now only hit 74 percent of his shots for the season.

No longer is he averaging a double-double. Nope, after a modest 13 points and six rebounds, the highlight performer of the greatest show in college basketball is now averaging just 22.3 points and 9.5 rebounds.

No longer is he a point-per-minute player. Nope, his point total came up five short of his 18 minutes against the Aztecs, meaning he has now scored just 89 points in 94 minutes for the season — that’s a bit-more-earthly 0.947 points per minute.

Even earthlier, Williamson didn’t come close to frightening a rim in the first half. Nope, his first — and only — dunk didn’t come until almost seven minutes into the second half. Of course, it should be mentioned that the dunk looked like this:

Yes, he could have easily taken a nibble of the rim on that play. Or at least given it a peck.

And yes, he did also end the game with five steals, the most by any Blue Devil in a game this season and tied for the most by any Blue Devil during a game in Maui (Grant Hill vs. Depaul in 1992 and Mike Chappell vs. Missouri in 1997).

OK, so it’s true Zion’s least-impressive game of the season was still awfully impressive.

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That being said, though, he has now faced early foul trouble in two consecutive games, limiting his first-half minutes, thereby giving him fewer chances to contribute his earth-shaking moments that instantly demoralize opponents.

So maybe, as is the case with all other humans, he does have a weakness or two. Or maybe he just had an off-night. Maybe it was jet lag. Maybe it was the length of the Aztecs or their decision to stuff the paint when playing defense. Maybe it was the fact that he was double-teamed early.

Whatever it was, there just seemed to be quieter pows when his hands came into contact with the ball.

And there seemed to be moments when he was trying to force the issue in the first half, resulting in his turnovers (two) topping his assists (one) for the first time this season.

Maybe the not-as-wowing Zion will appear again in future games. But if that was Zion at his worst against SDSU, well, that means he must be from another planet after all.

So now the world gets to see what it looks like when Zion responds to his most lackluster performance in a Duke jersey.

Celebrity Duke basketball fans. dark. Next

And the No. 8 Auburn Tigers, the Blue Devils’ semifinal opponent in Maui at 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday, will have an up-close view. Chances are they will have to figure out a way to deal with the same Zion Williamson who stole nearly every headline following the Blue Devils’ first three games of the season.