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Monday, April 15, 2024

LeBron James’ immediate reaction to Duquesne basketball’s stunning upset of BYU

LeBron James is impacting the Dukes more than he could imagine amid their March Madness endeavors.

On Thursday, the Duquesne basketball program took on a steep March Madness battle against the BYU Cougars. The Dukes beat the Cougars 71-67 in a stunning turn of events. Moreover, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James praised the team after their thrilling upset.

LeBron James hands the Dukes major flowers

James could not contain his excitement on social media and posted this loaded message on X:

James passionately congratulated Duquesne and noted their first NCAA Tournament win in 55 years. Ironically, the Lakers star may have also provided the DukesΒ some extra juice ahead of the tournament.

Commentators noted that James gifted members of the Duquesne basketball squad a pair of shoes during a team meeting the day before their BYU matchup:

It seems James’ gesture made an impact, as the Dukes will keep dancing.

March Madness in Omaha, Nebraska

Duquesne entered the loaded BYU basketball matchup as the No. 11 seed in the East region. Many analysts and fans would likely not have chosen them to win. However, the Dukes’ depth and execution allowed them to move forward.

Senior guard Dae Dae Grant led the team with 19 points, two assists, and three rebounds. Fellow guard Jimmy Clark III joined Grant’s double-digit scoring tirade by chipping in 11 points. Moreover, Duquesne received a breakout performance from freshman forward Jakub Necas.

Necas averaged 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 10 minutes of action during the 2023-24 season. However, he ended Thursday’s matchup with 12 points and six rebounds. In addition, forwards David Dixon and Fousseyni Drame contributed seven and eight points, respectively.

If the Dukes can continue to get all-around production from their team, they could make another upset in the Round of 32. The same cannot be said for BYU though.

The Cougars were the East’s No. 6 seed and had some standout performances to back it up. Yet, their depth did not show. Senior guard Jaxson Robinson scored a team-high 25 points. He was joined by Spencer Johnson, who chipped in an 11-point-16 rebound double-double.

BYU as a team shot 38% from the field compared to Duquesne’s 46.4%, which was the ultimate difference-maker. The Cougars will re-group for another run in 2025, while the Dukes await a lofty challenge.

Will Dusquesne keep dancing?Β 

The Dukes will face the winner of the Illinois-Morehead State game. Illinois is the favorite, coming in as the No. 3 seed; however, the No. 16 Eagles are not to be messed with. Morehead State led the Fighting Illini 19-18 with 10 minutes to go in the first half.

It will be interesting to see who comes out on top to face a fired-up Duquesne squad.

LeBron James might have to send the Dukes more gifts if his contributions motivate the team to play like they did on Thursday. There is no doubt that Duquesne can get production from its bench players. The question is whether they can do it again against more size and talent.

If the Fighting Illini find a way to win, they will hit the Dukes with a well-rounded attack led by Terrence Shannon Jr., who scored 23.0 points per game during the regular season. Illinois also has Coleman Hawkins and Qunicy Guerrier roaming the paint.

Meanwhile, if Morehead State pulls off the upset, the Dukes will have to deal with the two-way forces of Riley Minix. Minix leads the Eagles in points, steals, and rebounds.

Regardless of what happens, the East region will continue to experience all sorts of March Madness.

Christopher Smith_headshot

About the Author

Christopher Smith is an All Sports Editor for ClutchPoints. The Aurora, Illinois native earned a degree in philosophy from Creighton University, where he also competed as a Division 1 Cross Country runner. Smith has previously written for FanSided and Last Word on Sports, and his primary interests lie in the NBA, Brooklyn Nets, and distance running.

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