A Patriot Continues to Dance
The Patriot League sent their best to this dance this year and Duke happened to be the beneficiary of its move to do so.
The small school from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania saw their Lehigh Mountain Hawks become just the sixth team to take down a No. 2 seed, the second in mere hours, as they were lead by the Patriot League player of the year and the leading returner scorer in Division I C.J. McCollum. He out-performed a sure fire lottery pick in the NBA Draft in Austin Rivers, if he leaves, along with his other Blue Devil backcourt mates in Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins.
McCollum dropped 30 on Duke, as Coach K watched red-faced and all from the sideline. He recorded six dimes to go along with his seven rebounds. He answered the call from his coaches, players, teammates and most of all, himself.
McCollum looks to keep Lehigh dancing against Xavier come Sunday. photo credit: bleacherreport.net
Durham was just 55 miles from the Greensboro Coliseum, where the game was played, and had a number of Tar Heel fans holding up ‘Go Lehigh, Beat Duke’ signs. After the game, Coach K made it clear that McCollum was the best player on the court and the results showed that. Now that Coach K knows that, the rest of the country should as well. Lehigh outscored Duke 19-4 in transition, a stat that Xavier, their round of 32 opponent, should be well aware of.
You may be asking yourself, how did Lehigh find this kid? Look no further than his height, or lack their of, for that answer. Rob Dauster of of NBC Sports explains why America lives off players like McCollum during this time of year.
McCollum drew 13 of the Blue Devils’ 26 fouls, which shows just how much of an impact he can have on the game. Duke had little answer for him, regardless of his position on the floor. Up top, he makes the necessary pass to find the open man. On the wing, he can take you off the dribble or pull up to make you pull for playing him off a foot or so. Off the ball, he is able to find his way through the zone to get open or lose his man and go get the ball from his teammates.
Lehigh will ride McCollum this Sunday when they face No. 10 seed Xavier, with all eyes set on the Sweet 16. If you are looking for a kid and a team to root for this March, look no further than C.J. McCollum and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks.
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