Robert Morris (0-1) vs. Lehigh (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 12, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Petersen Events Center (12,508) -- Pittsburgh, PEnnsylvania. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Robert Morris 0-1, Lehigh 0-0. Away Record: Robert Morris 0-0, Lehigh 0-1. Neutral Record: Robert Morris 0-0, Lehigh 0-0. Conference Record: Robert Morris 0-0, Lehigh 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAMES NOTES: Looking for its first win since upsetting Duke in last season's NCAA Tournament, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks will square off with the Robert Morris Colonials at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament.
Robert Morris might not have made it to the NCAA Tournament last season but the Colonials didn't have anything to be ashamed of in a 26-11 campaign. The Colonials find themselves in an early hole though, as they were outclassed in front of their home crowd in 79-54 rout at the hands of Rider.
After shocking the college basketball world by beating a No. 2 seed as a 15- seed in the NCAA Tournament, Lehigh fell back to Earth to begin this season. The Mountain Hawks couldn't keep up on the road against a nationally-ranked Baylor squad and fell 99-77. Still something is brewing in Lehigh which has had 20 or more wins in each of the last three seasons.
This will be only the third meeting between these schools on the hardwood. The previous two were split with Lehigh victorious most recently with a 54-53 win in 1986.
Robert Morris was atrocious offensively in its loss to Rider. The Colonials shot just 25.5 percent from the floor in the game and had just 13 field goals. Almost half of the team's final tally (54 points) was picked up at the free-throw line (24).
The Colonials have been one of the top mid-major programs in recent years with trips to the NEC championship game in each of the last four seasons. Velton Jones (16.0 ppg, 4.5 apg) drives the team and when he struggles so have the Colonials. That point could not have been driven home more in the loss to Rider as Jones finished with only eight points and three assists, while shooting 1-for-6 from the floor. All-NEC Rookie Lucky Jones didn't shoot well from the floor (2-for-8) but finished second on the team in both points (9) and rebounds (5) in the loss. Coron Williams averaged in double figures last season (10.8 ppg) but was similarly stymied against Rider with only seven points on 2-of-8 shooting. Karvel Anderson did provide a spark off the bench scoring a team-high 11 points while bringing down four rebounds. The junior could push his way into a starting job with continued success.
Lehigh didn't get much defensive pressure on Baylor in the opener, allowing the Bears to shoot 64.5 percent from the floor. Meanwhile, the Mountain Hawks shot just 37.3 percent from the floor and had 12 fewer rebounds than the Bears (44-32). It also didn't help that Lehigh had six shots blocked.
One thing has not changed for Lehigh and that is where the offense runs. C.J. McCollum lit the college basketball world on fire in the NCAA Tournament last season and got off to hot start in 2012-13. McCollum scored 36 points and brought in eight rebounds, while taking 32 of the team's 75 shots. McCollum averaged 21.9 points per game last season and it is expected that such gaudy offensive numbers will continue. Mackey McKnight established himself as the second option in the game, scoring 14 points, while also handing out four assists. Last season McKnight averaged 8.8 points per game. After McCollum and McKnight there was very little offensive punch from the Mountain Hawks, with the rest of the roster accumulating only 27 points. Having such a centrally focused offense didn't hurt Lehigh last season when it ranked first in the Patriot League and 29th in the nation in scoring (75.7 ppg).
McCollum is clearly a special player that has zero fear when it comes to handling the workload offensively. Robert Morris doesn't have a player that will be able to answer McCollum, giving the edge to the Mountain Hawks in game two of the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Lehigh 77, Robert Morris 68
11/12 10:44:15 ET