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Friday, March 16, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Lehigh 75, Duke 70

By Mark Schlabach


GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Breaking down No. 15 seed Lehigh's 75-70 upset of No. 2 seed Duke in a South Region second-round game Friday night at Greensboro Coliseum.

Overview: We waited 11 years to see a No. 15 seed upset a No. 2 seed again in the NCAA tournament.

It happened twice Friday.

Only hours after No. 15 seed Norfolk State stunned No. 2 seed Missouri 86-84 in a West Regional game in Omaha, Neb., Lehigh pulled off an equally impressive upset, surprising No. 2 seed Duke 75-70 in Greensboro Coliseum.

Before Friday, a No. 15 seed hadn't defeated a No. 2 seed since Hampton upset Iowa State in 2001. It was Lehigh's first victory in the NCAA tournament and a Patriot League team's third in 24 NCAA tournament games since 1991.

The Mountain Hawks gave Duke early notice that they weren't going to simply bow down to its blue-blood tradition. Duke led only 30-28 at the half, and it didn't take Lehigh very long to grab control in the second half. Lehigh took a 55-51 lead on guard C.J. McCollum's brilliant wrap-around pass to Gabe Knutson for an easy layup with 5:05 to play. The Mountain Hawks led by as many as seven points in the final two minutes.

Turning point: Duke guard Seth Curry picked up his fourth foul with 17:49 to go in the second half. He didn't go back into the game for more than eight minutes, after Lehigh had grabbed the lead. With Curry and injured starting forward Ryan Kelly on the bench, the Blue Devils didn't have many offensive options on the floor, and Lehigh knew it.

Key player: McCollum, a junior from Canton, Ohio, certainly looked like the best player on the floor, scoring 30 points on 9-for-22 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists. Duke's guards struggled to guard him all night. His highlight came on a nasty crossover move against Tyler Thornton in the first half, which should become a YouTube sensation.

Key stat: Duke's recent cold perimeter shooting continued, as the Blue Devils made only six of 26 3-pointers.

Miscellaneous: It was Duke's first loss in an NCAA opening-round game since falling to No. 11 seed VCU 79-77 in 2007. ... Kelly, who injured his foot in practice before last week's ACC tournament, dressed out for the game but didn't participate in warm-ups.

What’s next: Lehigh will play No. 10 seed Xavier in Sunday's third-round action in the South Region.