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Best Game Ever: C.J. McCollum will never forget the day he helped put his team in the NCAA tournament

Best Game Ever: C.J. McCollum will never forget the day he helped put his team in the NCAA tournament
C.J. McCollum scored 30 points against Duke to lead Lehigh to a victory in the 2012 NCAA tournament. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

Dan Woike asked NBA players to tell us about the best game in their basketball career. This week: C.J. McCollum.

March 7, 2012: Lehigh 82, Bucknell 77

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29 points, five assists, three rebounds, three steals, two blocks, 39 (out of 40) minutes

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum came from the tiny Patriot League to be one of the NBA’s most consistent scoring guards, capable of combustion for big nights in a blink, like he did last season in a game against the Chicago Bulls when he scored 28 points in the first quarter on his way to 50. But if it wasn’t for the conference championship game he called his “best ever,” he might not have gotten the chance to burst onto the radar by scoring 30 points in a NCAA tournament upset of Duke.

“When we beat Bucknell in the championship my junior year — that’s the game. If we lose, we don’t get to go to the tournament, I never get to play against Duke, and it changes the trajectory of my career. I was killing that day. I had 27, a lot of assists, a lot of rebounds. I hit some big shots and won on their floor. It was a very memorable moment. It was special because we lost the year before at BucknellI — I got fouled at the end of the game, and they didn’t call it. And then the next year, as the No. 2 seed, getting to celebrate on their floor, hoist the championship on their floor. They hate me there. It was a great crowd. To shut them up was everything.”

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