Xavier vs. Lehigh: Improbable matchup pits pair of upsetters
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org March 17, 2012 11:44PM
Tu Holloway, Joey Brooks
Updated: April 19, 2012 8:44AM
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Xavier not only ended Notre Dame’s season Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, but the Musketeers might have hastened the end of fifth-year senior Scott Martin’s college career.
Martin appealed to the NCAA for another year of eligibility after missing the 2009-10 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Coach Mike Brey said Martin should know in about two weeks whether he can return.
“I hope we can get him back,” Brey said. “We’ll have just about everybody back, but I’m really proud of them. They gave us a heck of a ride, and they gave college basketball a heck of a ride. It’s too bad we couldn’t keep it going.”
But the Musketeers (22-12) are keeping their run going and will play Lehigh in the third round of the South Regional on Sunday (6:45 p.m., truTV).
No. 15 seed Lehigh (27-7) did the improbable Friday with its 75-70 upset victory of No. 2-seeded Duke in the second round. It was the first NCAA tournament victory in Lehigh’s history.
If the Mountain Hawks can beat 10th-seeded Xavier, they will become the first 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16.
“You don’t do what they did, beating Duke,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “You don’t win in Greensboro Coliseum, an hour and 20 minutes from Duke’s campus, if you’re not well put together yourself.”
But even with the titanic upset of the Blue Devils, Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum downplayed his role in making Duke guards Austin Rivers, Tyler Thornton and Seth Curry feel helpless.
McCollum was the player of the year in the Patriot League. McCollum’s scoring average of 21.9 points ranks among the nation’s top 10, and he has scored more than 2,000 career points.
“I don’t know if it was a sense of helplessness, but I think they were definitely on their toes a little bit,” said McCollum, who scored a game-high 30 points against Duke. “But I was very comfortable, and I heard them say, ‘Don’t let him touch it.’ So that made me feel pretty good.”
Interestingly, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski earned his first win as a college coach against Lehigh in 1976 when he was at Army.
Musketeers 6-8 forward Andre Walker did not practice Saturday, but Mack said he expects Walker to play against Lehigh. Walker collided with a Notre Dame player late in the second-round matchup Friday and appeared woozy as he left the game.
The early game at Greensboro pits Creighton against North Carolina (4:15 p.m., Ch. 2).