What happened after Lehigh upset Duke in the NCAA tournament in March? The Mountain Hawks were defeated by Xavier, and the Musketeers’ 7-foot center played a big role in the victory.
Kenny Frease scored a career-high 25 points on 11-for 13 shooting in the 70-58 win. Four of Frease’s 12 rebounds were offensive boards, and the Musketeers outrebounded Lehigh by six for the game.
Lehigh’s tallest starter is 6-foot-9 senior forward Gabe Knutson, which is why freshman center Steven Adams is so key to this contest. If Adams can convert inside and/or force Knutson and Lehigh’s other forwards into foul trouble the Panthers will have a distinct advantage.
If Adams – or Dante Taylor or Talib Zanna – are unable to assert themselves in the paint then Lehigh will control the game.
Adams scored 13 points in Monday’s victory over Fordham and might be gaining confidence, but he said after that game that he is still only 80 percent comfortable with the offense. In going against a senior who has NCAA tournament experience Adams must use his three-inch size advantage, crash the offensive boards and create second-chance opportunities for himself and his teammates.
If the Panthers get into an outside shooting exhibition against Lehigh and its talented set of guards and skilled forwards they will be fighting an uphill battle.
C.J. McCollum is a projected NBA player and coach Brett Reed has a nice mix of shooters and penetrators around him. The Panthers can still win without Adams playing big in the middle, but their chances decrease significantly.
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