College Basketball Nation: 2012 Greensboro Region

Frease leads Xavier past Lehigh

March, 18, 2012

GREENSBORO, N.C. - It didn't take Xavier long to realize center Kenny Frease was the biggest man on the court in Sunday night's South Region third-round game against No. 15-seed Lehigh.

Frease, a 7-foot, 270-pound senior from Massillon, Ohio, was 3 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than any of the Mountain Hawks' post players.

"I'm just a lot bigger than those guys," Frease said.

The Musketeers kept feeding Frease the ball and he kept shooting, scoring 25 points on an 11-for-13 effort to lead No. 10-seed Xavier to a 70-58 victory at Greensboro Coliseum. Xavier advances to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2008 and will play No. 3 seed Baylor in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Friday.

"When you've got your back against the wall and it could be your last game ever, you get a little fire," Frease said. "I just got in position to score and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball."

Frease went 6-for-6 from the floor in the first half, but the Musketeers still trailed by as many as 15 points. Xavier closed the half with a 17-8 run and scored the first seven points of the second half to take its first lead.

[+] EnlargeKenny Frease
AP Photo/Chuck BurtonXavier's Kenny Frease bullied his way through Lehigh's undersized front line for 25 points.
Over the final 10 minutes, Xavier's backcourt put the clamps on Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum, the Patriot League Player of the Year. After the Mountain Hawks tied the score at 50 on McCollum's jumper with 10:35 to play, Lehigh scored only one basket over the next 9 1/2 minutes.

McCollum, who scored 30 points in Lehigh's 75-70 upset of 2-seed Duke on Friday night, scored 14 points on 5-for-22 shooting.

"It was a team plan," said Xavier guard Tu Holloway, who marked McCollum for most of the night. "I had him one-on-one, but I just wanted the guys to be there when he went around me and came off a ball screen. He's a great player. His shots just didn't fall tonight."

McCollum had several 3-pointers rim out and never seemed to find his rhythm after missing much of the first half with two fouls.

"I'm not one to make excuses," McCollum said. "I just wasn't making shots. I'm not going to blame picking up two fouls with shooting a basketball; it has nothing to do with it. I just missed some shots tonight and offense is going to come and go. We still have to get stops on defense and we didn't do that tonight."

Lehigh was attempting to become the first 15-seed to advance to the Sweet 16. After Norfolk State lost to Florida earlier Sunday, 15-seeds fell to 0-6 when playing in their second games of the NCAA tournament.

"It's a amazing high note to be here," Lehigh guard Mackey McKnight said. "It was an amazing honor to play Duke. It's just basketball and we love it. It's a dream come true to be here. It's a dream come true to even beat Duke and to even to play Xavier and even to lose to them. I think we just enjoyed every single moment of it and we'll always remember this. We'll never forget it."

Xavier, the team college basketball seemed to forget after it was involved in an ugly fight with rival Cincinnati early December, will continue its postseason run in the Sweet 16.

"People forget we were No. 8 in the country and 9-0 (actually 8-0)," Frease said. "We all knew in our hearts that we were capable of doing it."

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Red-eyed and trying to smile, North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall talked Sunday night about how proud he was of his team for advancing to the NCAA regional semifinals.

But surrounded by reporters, his fractured right wrist enveloped in ice, it was easy to see he was in pain.

“What hurts the most is that I want to be here for my team and help them out,’’ said Marshall, UNC’s creator, playmaker and one of the nation’s leading assist men. “It’s yet to be determined whether I’ll be able to or not, but we’ll find a way to get through it.”

But this time, could it be too much? Marshall, who finished with 18 points and 11 assists, was diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist after top-seeded UNC’s 87-73 victory over Creighton. A team spokesman said he would wear a soft cast Sunday night, but did not know whether the sophomore will be able to play when the Tar Heels face No. 13 seed Ohio in St. Louis on Friday.

The team is hoping there will be an update Monday.

“We’ll speak to the hand specialist tonight with Kendall and his family, and we’ll see what happens after that,’’ an obviously upset UNC coach Roy Williams said after the win.

Later, he added: “When you go to the Sweet 16, it’s supposed to be a lot more fun than this.”

The injury occurred with 10:56 left at Greensboro Coliseum when Marshall -- who naturally shoots left-handed -- was driving the lane for a right-handed layup. He was fouled hard by Bluejay Ethan Wragge, and crashed to the floor.

“I kind of got pushed to the ground,’’ Marshall said. “And I guess when I fell, I hurt my funny bone first, and that’s what I was most worried about. That’s fine. My wrist just got the worst of it.”

[+] EnlargeKendall Marshall
AP Photo/Chuck Burton"He's the best point guard in the nation," UNC star Tyler Zeller said of Kendall Marshall. "He makes this team go."
Asked if he thought it was a clean play, Marshall replied: “It was hard for me to tell. I was focused on making the basket. I watched the replay from one angle, and it was still hard to tell. Hopefully, he had his best intentions in mind of making a team play.”

Marshall didn’t know how bad the injury was at the time, though, making one of two free throws after a media timeout, leaving the game, and then eventually playing another seven-plus minutes.

“I felt the pain, but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it,’’ he said. “I just wanted us to get the win.”

But it may be a costly one.

Marshall is not just the team’s best creator and assist-man, he’s really the only one. Backup Dexter Strickland (who was also the team’s starting shooting guard) was lost for the season in January with a torn ACL. Freshman Stilman White has been spelling Marshall, but only to the tune of 4.2 minutes per game (before Sunday). Senior wing Justin Watts has also played point guard, but only for two stints this season.

“This is big,’’ senior forward Tyler Zeller said. “Kendall’s always been the leader of the team, he’s always been somebody who plays 35-plus minutes per game. … He’s the best point guard in the nation. He makes this team go.”

Indeed, it was Marshall who rallied the Tar Heels last year, when former starter Larry Drew II opted to transfer in the middle of the ACC season. His ability get teammates the ball in the right spots pushed the Tar Heels to a surprising run to the 2011 NCAA regional finals.

This season, his scoring blossomed, as did his ability to rack up assists. Sunday marked his sixth consecutive double-digit game. Meanwhile, he already has set the school and ACC records for assists in a season, and is a Cousy Award finalist.

So stunning was the postgame diagnosis, Williams asked the media to leave the locker room to address the team before heading to the podium for his postgame news conference. What had been a proud, celebratory atmosphere turned to shock and confusion.

“Kendall's an intricate part of the team, to say the least,’’ said junior forward John Henson, who had missed three straight games with a sprained left wrist before returning Sunday "And I know it's going to hurt, but we don't know what his status is, so we're just going to keep praying for him and hoping for the best."

Marshall was hoping Sunday, too -- somehow, for a quick recovery. Until now, he said, the worst injury of his career was a twisted ankle during his junior year of high school.

“And I thought I was ‘the man’ because I played the entire game with it, and I was like, ‘Oh, man, this is some Jordan-type stuff,’” he said, trying to smile.

If there is any positive, it’s that the injury is to his right wrist; had it been his left, Marshall said, he knows he would have no chance to play this week.

Whether he can, anyway, is a serious question.

And what happens if he can't? Even more so.

“Through being banged up, through missing players, we still find a way to go out there to compete,’’ Marshall said, still leading through the pain. “That’s a huge asset to a championship team, and that’s still what we want to be.”

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.

Video: Breaking down North Carolina's win

March, 18, 2012

Dan Dakich analyzes top-seeded North Carolina's easy 87-73 victory over No. 8 Creighton.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A quick look at UNC-Creighton:

Overview: North Carolina’s John Henson returned. Teammate Kendall Marshall kept going.

With the 6-foot-11 forward back in the starting lineup after missing three games with a sprained left wrist, and the not-so-one-dimensional point guard turning in his sixth straight double-digit scoring game, the top-seeded Tar Heels toppled No. 8 seed Creighton 87-73 to advance to their 31st NCAA tournament regional semifinal.

The Tar Heels led by as many as 19 in the second half, but when the Bluejays pulled to within 11 with about five minutes left, UNC's Harrison Barnes buried back-to-back 3-pointers to seal his team's trip to St. Louis.

Creighton's Doug McDermott, Barnes' former high school teammate, finished with 20 points, but the Tar Heels just had too many weapons.

Marshall (18 points, 11 assists) and Henson (13 points, 10 rebounds) finished with double-doubles. Barnes finished with 17 points. Reggie Bullock added 13 points.

Turning point: The score was tied 11-11 in the first half when Henson got the ball and Creighton’s Grant Gibbs slapped down on it, hitting Henson’s wrapped wrist in the process. Henson exchanged words with the guard, earning a technical.

His teammates responded to his anger. After the Bluejays made one of the two technical free throws, UNC pushed on a 28-12 run to take its largest lead of the half (39-24). Marshall scored nine in a row for the Tar Heels at one point during the breakaway, and the baby-blue clad spectators were as loud as any of those at the Smith Center this season.

Key player: Henson, who did all the aforementioned things wearing tape and a molded splint on his left wrist.

Key stat: The Tar Heels recorded only seven blocks in their three games without Henson. Sunday, they had nine.

Miscellaneous: One of the biggest cheers of the game came with about a minute left in the first half at Greensboro Coliseum, when UNC fans applauded Lehigh (which upset rival Duke on Friday) as it entered the building.

What’s next: Top-seeded UNC will play No. 13 seed Ohio on Friday in St. Louis in the Midwest Region semifinals.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina forward John Henson, who has missed three straight games because of a sprained left wrist, will play Sunday against eighth-seeded Creighton in the NCAA tournament, a team spokesman said.

It won't be determined whether the ACC Defensive Player of the Year will start until the junior goes through warm-ups.

Click here for the rest of the story.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Previewing the round of 32 games at Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday:

No. 1 seed North Carolina (30-5) vs. No. 8 seed Creighton (29-5), 5:15 p.m. ET

Greg McDermott knows he made mistakes as Iowa State’s coach.

After leading Northern Iowa to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 2004 to 2006, McDermott seemed like the perfect fit to become the Cyclones’ coach. A native of Cascade, Iowa, McDermott was successful in his first three coaching stops at Division II Wayne State in Nebraska, North Dakota State and then Northern Iowa.

After spending a dozen seasons coaching at college basketball’s lower levels, McDermott seemed ready for the sport’s big time.

Instead, McDermott endured four consecutive losing seasons at Iowa State, compiling a 59-68 record and never finishing better than 6-10 in the Big 12. McDermott resigned as the Cyclones’ coach after the 2009-10 season, when Creighton mercifully threw him a lifeboat to save his sinking career.

“I made some mistakes,” McDermott said. “I made some mistakes in recruiting. I made some mistakes with my dealings with some of our players that resulted in some guys transferring. And I think if you understand yourself and you take a look in the mirror, you better grow from that and learn from that.”

McDermott has resurrected his career with the Bluejays, who will play No. 1 seed North Carolina in a Midwest Regional third-round game at Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday.

“I think that the Missouri Valley is just a really good fit for him,” said Creighton forward Doug McDermott, the coach’s son. “[It’s] a mid-major conference, a really good league, and I just think the Big 12 might have been a little bit of a wake-up call. I think he’s more comfortable in the Missouri Valley Conference recruiting wise and he just feels in his comfort zone, so he’s really happy to be here.”

Ironically, McDermott’s move to Creighton prevented him from making perhaps the biggest recruiting mistake of his career -- not recruiting his son. Doug McDermott signed to play for Northern Iowa during his senior season at Ames (Iowa) High School in 2010. Greg McDermott didn’t think his son was good enough to play at Iowa State, and frankly, didn’t think his program was good enough for him, either.

“The culture that I had created with the program at Iowa State wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” Greg McDermott said. “I was constantly plugging holes because of guys transferring. And when you do that, it becomes a vicious cycle of things probably not going very well. And Doug was around it every day and I’m not sure that he was that excited to be part of it.”

Under McDermott’s watch, the Cyclones began to fall apart after leading scorer Mike Taylor, a junior college transfer, was dismissed from the team for off-court problems in 2007. The next year, forward Wesley Johnson transferred to Syracuse after two seasons at Iowa State. Johnson injured his foot in 2007-08 and didn’t learn it was actually broken until after the season. He was named Big East Player of the Year in his only season with the Orange and was the fourth pick in the 2010 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With so much uncertainty at Iowa State, Doug McDermott thought playing for his father’s former school was a better option.

“To be honest, I didn’t really want to play for him there, either,” McDermott said. “I felt like I was a Missouri Valley Conference fit. I felt like it was a good fit for me at Northern Iowa and at the time we just decided to go separate ways.”

But when Greg McDermott signed a 10-year contract with Creighton, the Panthers agreed to release Doug to play for his father. Greg McDermott said he consulted several colleagues who coached their sons -- like former Indiana coach Bob Knight, Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, former Washington State coach Dick Bennett and Michigan coach John Beilein -- about having Doug on his team.

“Almost to a man they felt if your son was going to be one of your best players, it would work fine,” Greg McDermott said. “Or if your son was a walk-on that never played, it would work fine. But if he is in the middle, if he’s your fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth guy, it creates a lot of additional pressure for your son and for you as his coach.”

That hasn’t been a problem at Creighton, where Doug McDermott has easily been the Bluejays’ best player over the past two seasons. This season, he was the country’s third-leading scorer with 23.2 points per game and was the first sophomore in history to be named MVC Player of the Year. McDermott scored 16 points with 10 rebounds in the No. 8-seeded Bluejays’ 58-57 victory over No. 9 seed Alabama in Friday’s second round.

“I don’t think anybody saw this coming,” Greg McDermott said of his son’s rapid development.

But North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who recruited Harrison Barnes, McDermott’s highly coveted teammate at Ames High School, said he told Greg McDermott his son was good enough to play at a program like Iowa State or anywhere else.

“Greg and I were standing outside the locker room when Ames won the state championship their senior year,” Williams said. “I said, ‘You’re crazy.’ I said, ‘If he’s my son, he’s going to play for me. He’s good enough to play for you.’ And that’s when Greg was at Iowa State, and he had already signed that fall with Northern Iowa. And Greg said, ‘Well, you know, I wish he were a little taller and a little stronger, and I don’t really want to put that kind of pressure on him,’ which I can appreciate that. But I said, ‘I still think you’re crazy because he would have been able to be a very successful player at Iowa State or North Carolina or anywhere.’”

On Sunday, McDermott will try to prove he and the rest of the Bluejays are good enough to topple the mighty Tar Heels.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Previewing the round of 32 games at Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday:

No. 10 seed Xavier (22-12) vs. No. 15 seed Lehigh (27-7), 7:45 p.m. ET

Point guard Mackey McKnight seems to be Lehigh’s unofficial spokesman, or at least the Mountain Hawks’ master motivator.

McKnight, a sophomore from New Orleans, wrote Lehigh’s team motto -- “One team. One dream.” -- on the outside of his left sneaker.

He also helped coin another Lehigh motto: “Built to Last.”

“We’re trying to build something that has redemptive value over time,” said Lehigh coach Brett Reed, one of only three NCAA Division I coaches to have earned a doctorate degree.

McKnight’s biggest motivation comes from the worst tragedy of his life. His best friend, Joseph McMillan II, was killed on a Los Angeles County Metro bus in Inglewood, Calif., on Oct. 13, 2010. Police said the bus stopped at a red light and a gunman walked up and fired multiple shots, killing McMillan, who was 18. Police said the crime was gang-related, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“He was just a big-time influence on me,” McKnight said.

McKnight will carry McMillan’s memory into Sunday’s South Region third-round game against 10th-seeded Xavier. With one more victory, the No. 15-seeded Mountain Hawks will become the NCAA tournament’s latest unlikely Sweet 16 participant.

“We just believed in each other,” McKnight said. “You feel confident with your family. We knew every man was going to have everyone’s back. It’s just a beautiful thing playing as one. There are no selfish players in this family. We can rise together as a family.”

Mackey cried after the Mountain Hawks’ 75-70 upset of No. 2 seed Duke in Friday night’s second round. McMillan was a native of Holly, N.C., and McKnight knew his friend would have cherished his team’s upset of the Blue Devils. McKnight said he and McMillan grew up together in New Orleans, where they often played one-on-one games in the driveway of his family’s home.

“He used to pretend he was North Carolina, and I always had to pretend I was Duke,” McKnight said. “I just miss him so much and I’m so grateful he blessed us with this win and is watching over us."

McKnight’s steady play helped the Mountain Hawks get hot at the right time. He has 88 assists in his past 21 games and had only one turnover against Duke. McKnight scored 11 points on 3-for-7 shooting against the Blue Devils, but knows his primary role is to put Patriot League Player of the Year C.J. McCollum in positions to score. McCollum scored 30 points against the Blue Devils.

“Our young guys like Mackey are getting used to the bright lights, and we think we can play with anybody in the country,” McCollum said.

McKnight and McCollum will have to slow down Xavier’s backcourt of Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons, who register a combined 32.5 points and 7.8 assists per game. The Mountain Hawks were able to limit Duke guards Seth Curry and Austin Rivers to only 6-for-23 shooting.

“I think their backcourt is absolutely terrific, to be honest with you,” Reed said. “They have guards that seem to live in the paint. They’re aggressive, they have a tough mentality, they go to where they want to go on the floor. And one of our primary responsibilities is going to be containing dribble penetration.”

McKnight won’t have to look far for motivation.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall said Saturday afternoon that watching the NCAA tournament games so far has been “a little scary … because after the first day there weren’t that many upsets, and it’s like, ‘Wow, I don’t want to be that one.’”

Friday’s matchups, which saw two No. 2 seeds fall, underscored that point.

“To see a couple of the higher seeds go down, you realize it’s still a game of basketball and there’s still five players on the court, and seeding doesn’t matter when you’re out there,’’ Marshall said. “So you hope it doesn’t happen to you. You want to prepare and put your best foot forward no matter who you’re playing against.”

Including No. 8 seed Creighton, which the top-seeded Tar Heels face Sunday in the NCAA Round of 32.

“The biggest thing I saw was just energy and intensity,’’ forward Harrison Barnes said. “All those quote-unquote 15 seeds that were so much less talented came out with just so much more energy than those two seeds, and that ended up winning them the game. So just our focus is to always come out to at least match or exceed the other team's energy.”

KNOW YOUR VIOLATIONS: Lane violation calls have impacted two games in the tournament: Syracuse vs. UNC-Asheville on Thursday and Xavier vs. Notre Dame on Friday.

UNC coach Roy Williams said he didn’t feel the need to discuss the rule with his team again, because he already has.

I had both of them [the violations in the games] described to me; if they were described properly they made the right call,’’ Williams said. “…There is a difference where you line up. If you line up on the lane, you cannot leave until the ball leaves the shooter's hand. If you're lined up anywhere else, you can't leave until the ball hits the rim.

“… If it's in the rulebook, it should be called. If it's not in the rulebook, it should not be called."

[+] EnlargeTyler Zeller
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesTyler Zeller sprained a finger on his left hand during the ACC tournament and had it wrapped during UNC's game against Vermont.
FINGER WATCH?: UNC forward Tyler Zeller sprained a finger on his left hand in the ACC tournament and had it taped against Vermont on Friday after he re-aggravated the injury.

He’ll be fine, which is probably why, so far, there doesn’t seem to be a Twitter account watching his recovery, a la @hensonswrist (which John Henson, who has missed three games with a sprained left wrist, said he actually follows). Or like @lawsonstoe, which hasn’t been updated since 2009, when then-point guard Ty Lawson’s toe injury made headlines every day.

But who knows?

“I don’t think I complain enough for it to get the media attention,’’ Zeller, who doesn’t even have a Twitter account, said, laughing. “So I don’t think I’ll get one.”

SUPERSTITIONS: Williams is known to be superstitious. Barnes and Marshall, who were answering questions at the official tournament podium on Saturday, were asked to name three of their favorites.

One: “Usually if he loses a game, he throws away the tie, potentially the suit,’’ Barnes said.

Two: “We always eat before we watch film,’’ he added.

Marshall chimed in with the third: “One of my favorites is before he comes in the locker room before games, there's always a blue marker and a black marker. Blue is on right; black's on the left. Sometimes we'll switch it just to mess with him, but he always goes and finds the right marker.”

LICENSE TO BUM RIDES: There was lots of talk Saturday about how Creighton's Doug McDermott used to give plenty of rides to Barnes when they were teammates in high school. The sophomore got his driver's license over the summer, and takes turns driving his Tar Heels teammates around.

"I still bum rides, though,'' he said, smiling.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It wasn’t too long ago that Harrison Barnes was riding shotgun around Iowa in Doug McDermott’s white Nissan Murano -- doing errands when they weren’t helping Ames High to consecutive state championships, taking breaks during March Madness to watch games together.

But neither could have foreseen, after graduating in 2010, that they would be matched up in the NCAA tournament Sunday for the chance to advance to the Sweet 16.

“It’s weird; it’s still weird; I think it will be weird at gametime,’’ said McDermott, whose eighth-seeded Creighton Bluejays will try to upset Barnes’ top-seeded North Carolina squad at approximately 5:15 p.m. EST at Greensboro Coliseum. “But I think once we step on the floor, it’ll be just another game.”

The pairing has been anticipated since the NCAA field was announced, and both friends have taken distinctly different routes to this showdown.

Barnes, now a 6-foot-8 wing, was a four-year starter at Ames who broke the state’s career scoring record.

McDermott, now a 6-7 forward, was a later bloomer, spending two years on the junior varsity, then coming off the bench his junior season before joining Barnes in the opening lineup as a senior.

It was watching Barnes’ work ethic -- his willingness to practice on off-days, to hit the gym before anyone else, to focus on his goals -- McDermott said, that drove him to improve.

[+] EnlargeUNC's Harrison Barnes
AP Photo/Gerry BroomeNorth Carolina's Harrison Barnes will face former high school teammate Doug McDermott on Sunday.
“Harrison's responsible for a lot of Doug's development,” Greg McDermott, Doug’s father and Creighton’s coach, said. “... When other high school-aged students were going to movies and going to football games and going to the prom, Harrison was working out.

“And I really believe that Doug saw in Harrison a guy that he wanted to emulate and saw the improvement and said, ‘You know what? I think that I now know what it takes.’ He could listen to his dad and his high school coach, but when you see it in Harrison, the improvement he made each year of high school because of his work ethic, it was certainly impactful for Doug.”

Another thing that inspired him, Doug McDermott said, was having the best college coaches in the country -- including UNC’s Roy Williams and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski -- watching Barnes (and therefore, the rest of the team) at Ames’ games.

Greg McDermott said that Williams saw his son play almost as much as he did his junior and senior seasons, "and that made a lot of us better because it brought so much more attention ... and it made us all want to be better players, a better team," Doug McDermott said.

Barnes, considered the top recruit in the country by many, ended up choosing Williams and the Tar Heels, where he earned ACC Rookie of the Year Honors last season. He is a member of the All-ACC first-team this year, and will almost certainly be an NBA lottery pick if he goes pro this summer.

McDermott originally signed with Northern Iowa before being released to play for his father at Creighton. This season, he became the first first-team All-American in the school’s history-- an honor Barnes has not yet earned, but for which he has congratulated his friend.

“His growth has been tremendous,’’ said Barnes, who leads UNC with 17.3 ppg. “Just having the ability to go to Creighton, go to a system where he’s able to grow and develop. And now everyone’s starting to see that, see his efficiency magnified, and see him get the shots he needs and in the right location he needs them in, and it’s been great. And as a former teammate, it’s been fun to watch.”

Although it might not be so fun if McDermott, who is averaging 23 point per game, continues that pattern Sunday.

It’s unclear how often (or if) the teammates-turned-foes will match up head-to-head. Although McDermott is productive both in the lane and behind the arc (he shoots 60.8 percent overall, and 49.5 percent on 3s), he starts with three shorter guards. That means he’ll likely draw 6-9 freshman forward James Michael McAdoo (or 6-11 John Henson, if he returns from a sprained left wrist), at least at the beginning of the game.

No matter the one-on-one match-ups, McDermott said he looks forward to having the teams match up. And to putting all those memories of high school car rides, practices and NCAA-watching aside -- as least for a few hours.

“We're both competitive dudes, so I think it should be a really fun game,’’ McDermott said.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- When Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum was a freshman at GlenOak High School in Canton, Ohio, he was only 5 feet, 2 inches.

He grew 5 inches as a sophomore, 4 inches as a junior and 3 inches as a senior.

"I knew the growth spurt was coming," McCollum said. "I just prayed it came before graduation."

McCollum's growth spurt came before he left high school, but his lack of height caused him to get overlooked by most major college basketball programs.

On Friday night, McCollum finally had a chance to show those teams what they missed, as he scored 30 points to help lead the 15th-seeded Mountain Hawks to a 75-70 upset of No. 2 seed Duke in a South Regional second-round game at Greensboro Coliseum.

For Mark Schlabach's full column, click here.

GREENSBORO, N.C. – With his team trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half, Xavier guard Tu Holloway had one thought: “If it comes down to one of us winning this game on a shot, I’m going to win this game for us.”

It did.

And he did.

With 21.3 seconds left Friday night, Holloway banked in the go-ahead field goal to beat seventh-seeded Notre Dame 67-63 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Xavier, the No. 10 seed in the South, will play No. 15 seed Lehigh at Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday.

“My best game ever? I could say most important game ever,’’ Holloway said.

He played like it.

During a postseason in which his team is still trying to erase the memories of a reputation-shrinking December brawl on its home floor against crosstown rival Cincinnati, the senior seemed determined not to let it end early.

[+] EnlargeDezmine Wells
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesFreshman Dezmine Wells hit the free throws that iced Xavier's upset of Notre Dame.
Trailing 48-38 in the second half, Holloway capped a 13-3 Xavier run with a jumper to knot the score at 51-all. Counting that bucket, Holloway scored eight of his team’s next 10 points, taking back the lead 59-58 with 3 minutes, 23 seconds left when he stole the ball and scored at the other end.

The teams traded the lead after that. And even after Holloway’s bank shot, which gave his team a 64-63 lead, Notre Dame had a chance to tie it.

But with 2.8 seconds left, as Irish guard Eric Atkins hit the front end of a one-and-one, teammate Jerian Grant was called for a lane violation when he left his position behind the 3-point arc too early as he ran in for a rebound.

Mike Stuart, a member of the three-man officiating crew that worked the game, said in a prepared statement about the call: “The rule is that anyone outside the 3-point arc is under the same restrictions as the free throw shooter. They cannot penetrate the arc until the ball hits the rim, in which case No. 22 [Grant] was clearly way down in the lane before the ball ever hit. It’s an obvious violation, by the rule.”

The whistle gave the ball back to Xavier, and Dezmine Wells buried two game-sealing free throws after Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton was whistled for an intentional foul.

Holloway finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting.

“The moment’s never too big for him,’’ Xavier coach Chris Mack said of Holloway. “… That’s who he is, he’s extremely courageous. He’s never one to let somebody else take over. He doesn’t do it selfishly; he just has a huge belief in himself. And his teammates do, and his coach.”

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Quick thoughts from 10th-seeded Xavier's 67-63 victory over No. 7 seed Notre Dame:

Overview: The Duke loss preceding this game will be talked about for quite a while. But so will the ending to this one.

Xavier guard Tu Holloway’s game-winning bank shot with 22 seconds left at Greensboro Coliseum -- followed by a lane-violation call on Notre Dame in the final seconds -- capped a down-to-the-wire, adrenaline-pumping affair.

It finished in odd fashion. With 2.8 seconds left and Xavier leading 65-63, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins went to the line for a 1-and-1 and a chance to tie it. But as he made the first, teammate Jerian Grant was called for a lane violation when he left his position behind the 3-point arc too early as he ran in for a rebound.

Mike Stuart, a member of the three-man officiating crew that worked the game, said in a prepared statement about the call: "The rule is that anyone outside the 3-point arc is under the same restrictions as the free throw shooter. They cannot penetrate the arc until the ball hits the rim, in which case No. 22 [Grant] was clearly way down in the lane before the ball ever hit. It's an obvious violation, by the rule."

(A similiar call was made at a key moment during top-seeded Syracuse's 72-65 victory over UNC Asheville during the second round of the East Regional on Thursday.)

The call gave the ball back to Xavier, and on the ensuing inbounds pass, Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton was whistled for an intentional foul when he grabbed Dezmine Wells' jersey. Wells hit both free throws to seal the victory.

Turning point: Notre Dame led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but with 7 minutes, 3 seconds left, Holloway capped a 13-3 Xavier run with a jumper to knot the score at 51-all. Counting that bucket, Holloway scored eight of his team’s next 10 points, taking back the lead, 59-58, with 3:23 left when he stole the ball and scored at the other end.

Key player: Holloway had another great game, finishing with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting.

Key stat: Notre Dame was 4-for-9 from the free throw line; Xavier was 18-for-27.

Miscellaneous: Xavier is one of only eight schools that have made at least seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. ... This marked the third straight trip to the tournament for the Irish.

What’s next: No. 10 seed Xavier will face 15th-seeded Lehigh -- which upset No. 2 seed Duke earlier Friday -- on Sunday for the right to advance to the South Region semifinals in Atlanta.

Video: Coach K on the loss

March, 16, 2012

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski talks about his Blue Devils' 75-70 loss to No. 15 seed Lehigh.

Video: Breaking down Lehigh's upset

March, 16, 2012

Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg breaks down No. 15-seeded Lehigh's 75-70 upset of second-seeded Duke.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It sounds as if it was a close call for North Carolina coach Roy Williams, deciding not to play forward John Henson during Friday's 77-58 NCAA tournament win over Vermont because of a sprained wrist.

And it sounds like it could be a close call again on Sunday, when the top-seeded Tar Heels play Creighton in the NCAA Round of 32.

[+] EnlargeNorth Carolina's John Henson
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesJohn Henson was in street clothes against Vermont and is still questionable for Sunday.
“It has gotten a little bit better each and every day, but it hasn't gotten better at the same rate as it was earlier in the week,’’ Williams said of Henson’s wrist, which the junior sprained last Friday in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.

“I would think that if you had asked me yesterday, I would have said it's a little less than 50-50 that he was going to play today. And now, if it continues, I would say it's a little better than 50-50 that he would play Sunday. But if he still feels the same way, I won't play him.”

The Tar Heels, who sometimes don’t go through a morning shootarounds before they play an afternoon game, opted to have one at a nearby college because Williams wanted to see what Henson could do.

The player couldn't do quite enough.

“He can catch the ball now, he can palm the ball now,’’ Williams said. “Got him into the post and said, ‘All right, let me see you make ball fake drop step where you have to take a two hand power dribble and then lay it up,’ and he was able to do it and catch it. But it didn't look like he was very comfortable with it.

“So he went to the other side and did the same thing. And I went to him and I said, ‘John, it just doesn't look like you're comfortable.’ And he says, ‘Coach, not really, but I'm right there.’ And I just made the decision at that time that I wasn't going to play him.

"And I said that it's not an easy decision, I'm not holding you out saying that we're going to win, I'm just holding you out because I think it's best for you. If you're always trying to save somebody for the next game, your rear end may be going home.”

Williams said the team would go through the same sort of procedure with Henson during a short practice Saturday.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.