Jared McCain: Nail-painting Duke freshman dazzles at NCAA tournament with record night

Alex Abrami
Burlington Free Press

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Excuse Jared McCain for not having time to go to a salon and get his nails done. The Duke basketball freshman's social activities are limited at the NCAA Tournament.

"These are pretty bad. I had to do this in the hotel room," McCain said. "I usually don't do them, they are chipping."

Nothing, however, was prettier than the freshman's performance in fourth-seeded Duke's 93-55 runaway victory over No. 12 James Madison in Sunday's Round of 32 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

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McCain drained his first six tries from beyond the 3-point line. He dropped 22 first-half points and finished with a Duke record for 3s in an NCAA Tournament game with eight triples to cap a 30-point outburst as the Blue Devils (26-8) cruised into the Sweet 16 with one of the best performance of the season.

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"I trust my work. Those shots are easy for me because I work so hard," McCain said. "I trust myself, I have so myself confidence in myself."

By his fourth 3-pointer of the opening 20 minutes, McCain gave out the Michael Jordan shrug. By the sixth triple, for a 47-23 lead, McCain raised both arms high above his head.

"I don't know what I did out there, to be honest with you," said McCain, who finished 10 of 15 from the floor. "I don't know what I was doing. I wasn't really conscious out there.

"I feel like every game, I'm always ready to see if I'm going to go off." 

McCain, who scored a career-high 35 points at Florida State last month, was removed from Sunday's game with 9:29 left in regulation.

"We've had some pretty good shooters here, so to break that record with eight, I'm sure he's mad at me for taking him out early." Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. "He's going to be mad at me. He wanted to be in there more. But he had a great way about him, obviously."

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McCain said he was happy he could deliver in just his second opportunity in March Madness.

"It's the best feeling in the world when you know the work that you put in is showing up on the court, especially in such a big game like this, to go to the Sweet 16," McCain said. "For these types of games, you just want to win and I want to do everything I can to win, and tonight if it's making shots, making 3s, whatever it was, I'm just grateful for the opportunity to go to the Sweet 16."

As for his nails, McCain said he should have time to visit a professional nail technician. Duke leaves early this week for Dallas on its next stop at the NCAA Tournament.

"I’ll get them done. I usually walk into a salon and pick a color," McCain said.

Contact Alex Abrami at Follow him on Twitter: @aabrami5.