C.J. McCollum scored 30 points and Lehigh upset Duke to become the second No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 during a wild Friday in the NCAA tournament.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Lehigh Mountain Hawks said they weren’t afraid of Duke.
Maybe no one believed them, but the Patriot League champions proved they were serious.
C.J. McCollum scored 30 points and Lehigh upset Duke 75-70 in the South Regional to become the second No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 during a wild Friday in the NCAA tournament.
“It means a lot as a team, a family and as the Patriot League in general,” McCollum said. “We wanted to come out here and protect this team and this family, get the win, and we did that tonight.”
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Lehigh forward John Adams said it was a matter of believing in each other.
“Everybody bought into that idea that we could beat them. The rest is history.”
The Mountain Hawks became the sixth No. 15 seed to pull off the trick. Norfolk State edged Missouri 86-84 in the West Regional earlier in the day, and No. 13 seed Ohio knocked off Michigan to add to the madness.
Lehigh (27-7) plays 10th-seeded Xavier on Sunday for a trip to the Sweet 16 next week.
Duke (27-7) dropped its tournament opener for only the second time in the past 16 years, and this one occurred just 55 miles from its campus. The Blue Devils also lost their opener against 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth in 2007.
The Blue Devils had no answer for the speedy McCollum, the two-time Patriot League player of the year and the nation’s fifth-leading scorer, who also had six assists and six rebounds.
“They had the best player on the court tonight in McCollum,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
It didn’t help that the Blue Devils hit just 6 of 26 three-point shots.
Lehigh led most of the game, drawing support from North Carolina fans who borrowed brown signs from Mountain Hawks supporters that read “Go Lehigh” to root against their rivals.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lehigh forward Justin Maneri said. “They were like, ‘Go Lehigh, beat Duke!’ They were screaming. It was nice to have fans here that weren’t Duke. I’ve never seen two schools that hate each other so much.”
The Mountain Hawks led most of the first half despite shooting just 38 percent from the field.
Lehigh grabbed the lead for good at the 8:21 mark of the second half when Mackey McKnight made a three-pointer.
Duke got as close as three twice in the final 30 seconds, the last time on Quinn Cook’s three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left.
Duke fouled McCollum on the inbounds pass and he made up for two earlier misses from the line by hitting both shots to seal a shocking victory that sent the Greensboro Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.
Lehigh’s Gabe Knutson scored 17 points and was 5 of 5 from the field. Jordan Hamilton, a 6-foot-6 senior forward from Seattle Prep, had eight points and one rebound for Lehigh.
Mason Plumlee and Austin Rivers led Duke with 19 points apiece.
No. 10 Xavier 67, No. 7 Notre Dame 63
In Greensboro, Tu Holloway banked in the go-ahead shot over Jack Cooley with 21.3 seconds left, helping Xavier rally for a victory.
Holloway finished with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including a flurry that helped the Musketeers (22-12) wipe out a 10-point second-half deficit against the Irish (22-12). His final points came when he rounded a screen from Kenny Frease and sent a high-arcing shot over Cooley’s outstretched arm for a 64-63 lead.
After a free throw from Dezmine Wells pushed the lead to two, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins drew a blocking foul to get to the line with 2.8 seconds left. He swished the first free throw, but an official ruled that Jerian Grant left his position behind the three-point arc too early as he ran in for a rebound, giving the ball back to Xavier.