8:00 PM ET, March 18, 2012
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- The Lehigh Mountain Hawks insist their work here isn't done.They're not ready to pack up and go home to Bethlehem, Pa., after pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history by stunning national power and second-seeded Duke 75-70 in its own backyard Friday night.The Mountain Hawks want to stick around a little longer.After his team's monumental upset, Lehigh coach Brett Reed asked his players in the locker room if they were satisfied and the collective response was no.The 15th-seeded Mountain Hawks, led by speedy guard C.J. McCollum the nation's fifth-leading scorer, fully believed they could topple Duke -- and they said so publicly before the game. And they believe they can do the same to 10th-seeded Xavier on Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum."I'm not ready to end my career and (my teammates) aren't ready to end what we created," senior forward Jordan Hamilton said.Hamilton said it's hard to compare this team to others from past NCAA tournaments."We're something that this tournament's never really seen before," Hamilton said. "I know people like to draw comparisons and try to categorize, but I really believe that we're our own unique team. "McCollum, a two-time Patriot League player of the year, sees it a little differently.He thinks the Mountain Hawks are a little like the 2008 Davidson Wildcats, a No. 10 seed that shocked the country when they came up one win short of a trip to the Final Four.The Wildcats lost to eventual national champion Kansas in the regional finals."We're a little bit like them in terms of being a small school having a solid team, solid coaching staff and trying to make a run in the tournament," McCollum said.So does that make McCollum Lehigh's version of Stephen Curry?Before McCollum could answer that at Saturday's press conference teammate Gabe Knutson jumped in to answer with a firm "Yes!"Just 5-foot-6 and admittedly a little pudgy his junior year of high school, McCollum received very little interest from Division I schools.But he had a late growth spurt and now, at 6-foot-3, has developed into one of the best players in the country.Prior to Friday's game Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said McCollum could play for an ACC team. A few hours later he proved he could beat one, too.Duke simply wasn't quick enough to keep McCollum from driving to the basket.At one point Duke guard Tyler Thornton challenged McCollum out near half court daring him to go by him. McCollum quickly crossed him up with a dribble and drove around the left side of the lane for an uncontested layup.The Blue Devils tried every trick to stop him but failed."I was very comfortable and I heard them say `Don't let him touch it,' so that made me feel pretty good and gave me a little bit of confidence," McCollum said."He was the best player on the court," Krzyzewski said afterward.One thing is for sure, McCollum is the key to Lehigh's duration in the tournament.And the Musketeers know it.Xavier's game plan will focus around stopping McCollum, who came into the tournament averaging 21.9 points per game and had 29 in the conference championship win over Bucknell.The Musketeers feel their pack-line defense is custom built to stop a player like McCollum."Our defense is built to keep players out of the lane," Xavier guard Dezmine Wells said. "But he also has a great jump shot too so that's a personal challenge to whoever is guarding him."In many ways, Xavier presents more problems defensively for Lehigh than Duke because of its slashing guards.Ty Holloway scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half in Xavier's 67-63 win over Notre Dame and was at one point considered a national player of the candidate."We know Xavier is aggressive and really attack both on offense and defense, so I think for us a key is going to be withstanding their runs and really standing up to their pressure and not caving in or sort of crumbling under their image or the intensity they play with," Hamilton saidAdded Reed: "I think their backcourt is absolutely terrific, to be honest with you. They have guards that seem to live in the paint. They're aggressive, they have a tough mentality and they go to where they want to go on the floor."Perhaps the biggest challenge for Reed is keeping his team focused on the task ahead rather than basking in its emotional victory over Duke, the school's first NCAA tournament win."I think that after any emotional game there's always the propensity to potentially fall off a little bit, because we have expended so much mental energy," Reed said.
NCAA Mens Tournament
|Avg Points Allowed||65.1||67.5|
|Conference||Patriot League||Big East|
|» Mar 18, 2012||@XAV 70, LEH 58||Recap|