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Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum to miss 8-10 weeks with broken fifth metatarsal in left foot

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The news that many in the college basketball world feared on Saturday evening came to pass on Sunday, as Lehigh head coach Dr. Brett Reed revealed that star guard C.J. McCollum will miss anywhere from eight to ten weeks with a broken bone in his left foot.

McCollum suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in the first half of the Mountain Hawks’ 59-55 loss at VCU, and was seen on camera upon his return to the bench in the second half telling a teammate that he broke his foot.

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Through 12 games the Patriot League Player of the Year averaged 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for Lehigh, who is looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row and the third time in four seasons.

The question now, with conference play beginning next Saturday against Holy Cross (Lehigh plays Muhlenberg on Tuesday night), is whether McCollum’s injury means that the Mountain Hawks can forget about winning the Patriot League regular season title.

While this news makes a Bucknell team led by Mike Muscala the favorite to win the title (the Bison won the regular season title last year but fell to Lehigh in the Patriot League title game), ruling out Dr. Reed’s team out would be a mistake.

Lehigh has three other players averaging double figures with senior forward Gabe Knutson (15.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) leading the way, and with he, senior forward Holden Grenier and junior guard Mackey McKnight the Mountain Hawks have plenty of experience (not to mention skill) to call on.

With McCollum sitting out due to an ankle injury Lehigh hung 90 points on North Texas on December 20, shooting 48.5% from the field (and 11-of-23 from three) and assisting on 21 of their 32 made field goals. Knutson (28 points) and McKnight (25) led the way offensively on that night.

If McCollum’s recovery time is closer to eight weeks than ten the senior could return in time for the Patriot League tournament, which begins on March 6.

But with the NBA future that McCollum is projected to have don’t expect anyone involved to risk that if he isn’t 100%.

“We are going to make sure C.J. is fully recovered and will place the highest priority on quality of care and be certain the injury has healed properly before full activity is resumed,” Dr. Reed said according to Nicole Auerbach of USA Today.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Duke knocks off No. 13 Louisville in first game of critical four-game stretch

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Grayson Allen scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half and Brandon Ingram added 18 points, 10 boards and four assists as Duke picked up a critical win over No. 13 Louisville in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday night, 72-65.

A call this a critical win for the Blue Devils because it kicks off what may be the most important two-week stretch of Duke’s schedule This weekend, the Blue Devils square off with No. 9 Virginia. Next Wednesday, they’re at the Dean Dome to take on No. 7 North Carolina. Four days after that, they head to the Bluegrass State to pay a visit to Louisville.

 

With the way that Duke has been struggling on the defensive end of the floor without Amile Jefferson, that’s a stretch that could derail Duke’s season; entering Monday, all four of those games were losable. But a four-game winning streak — or even going 3-1 in that stretch — could completely change the tenor of what has been a fairly disappointing year for the defending champs, and that’s before they get Jefferson back to 100 percent.

And the difference was defensively, at least in the first half.

I’ve written in this space a number of times about how opponents know what they’re going to get from Duke defensively. Coach K, traditionally, plays half court man-to-man defense, switching every exchange — ball-screen, off-ball pick or simply when two players run by one another — that doesn’t involve the center. In recent years, he’s played some zone in situations where he defense has struggled or, like this season, when he doesn’t have the depth to risk foul trouble. We’ve even seen some 2-2-1 pressure from him of late.

But on Monday night, Duke played straight man-to-man for much of the game, and in the first half, it seemed to fluster the Cardinals. They scored just 24 points in the first 20 minutes, and while Louisville did find a way to break Duke down defensively in the second half — they shot better than 55 percent from the floor after the break — but part of the reason Duke was able to win this game was the lead they built. After a three from Allen opened scoring in the second half, the Blue Devils were up by 14, and while Louisville made a run down the stretch, they could never get control of the game.

Duke is becoming appointment viewing for basketball nerds like me that pay too much attention to X’s-and-O’s to see what kind of wrinkle Coach K is going to put in to try and compensate defensively, so I’m not sure that this performance sticks. But it is worth noting that this was the first time in eight games the Blue Devils gave up less than 1.0 PPP, and the first time since Dec. 19th they did so against an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

As far as Louisville is concerned, you have to tip your hat to those kids. They played their hearts out and fought back from a big deficit in one of the toughest places in the country to play. They did all that three days after their school ripped their hearts out with an NCAA tournament ban for this season.

So good for them. You never know how a team is going to react to something like that, but the Cardinal players showed that they have some serious fight in them.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.