Home At Last: Bulldogs Host Cornell, Columbia

Justin Sears (John Coleman photo)

Yale Enters Weekend Tied With Big Red For Third Place

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - After back-to-back weekends on the road, the Bulldogs are back in the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater this weekend. Yale hosts Cornell on Friday and Columbia on Saturday. Tip off on both nights is slated for 7 p.m.

The road stretch didn't start well (losses to Harvard and Dartmouth) but ended in memorable fashion with the first road sweep of Penn and Princeton since 1986-87. The Bulldogs (9-14, 3-3 Ivy) can now look forward to playing six of their final eight Ivy games at home. What made last weekend's performance so impressive was the number of different players that made significant contributions. Six Bulldogs averaged at least 9.0 points in the two games. Yale's bench outscored Princeton's reserves 34-10, and the bench had 21 points in the victory at Penn. The Bulldogs continue to lead the Ivy League in rebounding margin (+3.6) and offensive rebounds (12.9 per game). Against Penn, Yale grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, which led to 19 second chance points. The next night against Princeton, the Bulldogs had only 11 offensive boards, but that is because they missed just 19 shots. Yale shot 54.8 percent from the field, including 65 percent (13-of-20) in the first half.

Austin Morgan was 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the two games last weekend and is now third in the nation at 91.8 percent (78-of-85). He also leads the team in scoring (11.6 ppg.) and three-pointers (47).

DUREN NAMED IVY LEAGUE PLAYER OF WEEK

Javier Duren, who played a key role in Yale' first road sweep of the Penn-Princeton weekend since 1986-87, was named the Ivy League Player of the Week. With back-up point guard Michael Grace limited by an injury, Duren led the team with 13 points in the victory over Princeton. After the Tigers had rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to tie the score, Duren scored six of his points over a four-minute stretch. He also had a solid all-around game in the win at Penn, finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes.

Duren, a St. Louis, Mo., native has started 13 games for the Bulldogs on the season. He is third on the team in scoring (7.2 ppg.), tied for second in assists (50) and fourth in rebounding (3.8 rpg.). Duren is the third Bulldog to earn Ivy recognition this year. Yale swept the weekly awards on Jan. 28 when Austin Morgan was named Ivy Player of the Week and Justin Sears was the Rookie of the Week.

HISTORY LESSONS

Yale has fared well at home against Cornell and Columbia in recent years. The Bulldogs have won three of the last four games with the Big Red and four in a row against the Lions in Lee Amphitheater.

Yale and Cornell are playing for the 213th time, and the Big Red lead the all-time series 109-103. The teams have split the season series in each of the last two years. The Bulldogs topped Cornell 71-40 at home last year after dropping a heartbreaking 85-84 overtime decision in Ithaca earlier in the season.

Yale and Columbia have met at least once every year since 1902, which ties the series with Yale-Princeton as the oldest continuous series in Division I. The Bulldogs have won seven straight in the series but still trail all-time 122-100.

SCOUTING CORNELL

The Big Red (11-12, 3-3 Ivy) has won seven of its last 11 games. The Big Red's offense has been most dangerous when it has gotten itself easy shots from its pressure defense. In Cornell's 11 wins it has scored 77.4 points per game on 49 percent shooting. In its losses - 56.2 points on 38 percent shooting. Errick Peck and Shonn Miller were dominant forces in last weekend's home split with Harvard and Dartmouth. Peck averaged 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals, while Miller stuffed the stat sheet at 14.0 ppg., 5.0 blocks, 3.5 steals and 2.5 rebounds per contest. Miller, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year., leads the Big Red in scoring (10.5 ppg.), rebounding (6.7 rpg.), steals (2.0 spg.) and blocks (1.9 bpg.), while Peck ranks third in scoring (8.5 ppg.) and second in rebounding (4.8 rpg.). Cornell has been tremendously balanced on the offensive end, with only Miller averaging in double figures, though eight other players score more than 4.3 points per game.

SCOUTING COLUMBIA

The Lions (10-10, 2-4 Ivy) play at Brown on Friday. Columbia snapped a four-game losing streak after handing Harvard its first Ivy League loss of the season on Sunday. Steve Frankoski's 27 points paced the Lions' attack. Columbia shot over 50 percent from the floor and 9-of-17 from 3-point range. The Lions average just 10.1 turnovers per game, which is the fifth fewest in the nation. Brian Barbour (13.0 ppg.) leads the team in scoring, while Mark Cisco (5.9 rpg.) is the top rebounder. Columbia has five players averaging at least 9.8 points per game.

PENN-PRINCETON WEEKEND NOTES

•    A week after scoring Yale's first 10 points against Harvard, Armani Cotton had the Bulldogs' first nine in the victory over Penn. He finished with 15 points, six rebounds in 28 minutes.

•    Justin Sears returned to the lineup after missing the Harvard-Dartmouth weekend with an ankle injury. Sears averaged 10 points and 5.5 rebounds. Nine of his 11 rebounds came on the offensive end. His 71 offensive rebounds on the season are the second most in the Ivy League.

•    Sam Martin provided the Bulldogs with a spark off the bench. He was 7-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-7 from three-point range, in the two games and averaged 9.5 points.

•    The win over Princeton ended the Tigers' 21-game home Ivy League winning streak, the program's longest since winning 26 in a row from 1996-99.

•    None of the current Yale players were born the last time Yale swept the Penn-Princeton road trip in 1987.

YALE PICKED SIXTH IN PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

   The Bulldogs have finished fourth or better in the Ivy League in each of the last 12 years. That didn't earn Yale much respect in the preseason Ivy League media poll, which projected a sixth-place finish for the Bulldogs. Yale, though, has a history of proving the prognosticators wrong. In five of the last seven years, the Bulldogs have finished higher than projected.

2012-13 IVY LEAGUE PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

First-Place Votes in Parentheses

Rank        School............................................................ Points

1.              Princeton (16).................................................... 134

2.              Harvard (1)......................................................... 109

3.              Columbia.............................................................. 90

4.              Cornell.................................................................. 80

5.              Penn...................................................................... 74

6.              Yale........................................................................ 55

7.              Brown.................................................................... 50

8.              Dartmouth............................................................ 20

MEET THE NEWCOMERS

The 2012-13 Yale roster features four freshmen. Khaliq Bedart-Ghani (Inglewood, CA), Jack Montague (Brentwood, TN), Justin Sears (Plainfield, NJ) and Nick Victor (Dallas, TX) all bring strong credentials. Bedart-Ghani led Loyola High School in California in rebounding and blocks as a senior last winter. Montague was the district, region and county most valuable player as a senior at Brentwood High School. He averaged 17.0 points and seven assists and scored more than 1,200 career points. Sears earned first team all-state, all-area and all-county honors as a senior at Plainfield High School in New Jersey. He scored 1,048 points and grabbed 1,063 rebounds in his career to become only the second player in school history to score over 1,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds. He helped lead Plainfield to two New Jersey Tournament of Champion title games where it lost to national power St. Anthony's both times. Victor spent one year at the Winchendon School and earned NEPSAC honorable mention recognition. At Lovejoy High School in Dallas, Texas, he was the 2010 District most valuable player.

2012-13 SCHEDULE NOTES

•    The Bulldogs didn't play their first home game until Saturday, Nov. 24 against Army. That was the first of 12 games in the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

•    Yale played in the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The first game was at Saint Joseph, the Atlantic 10 preseason favorite. The Bulldogs then headed to Evansville, Ind., for three games, against Evansville, Buffalo and Western Illinois.

•    Yale faced a very challenging three-game road trip right after Christmas. The Bulldogs travelled to Nevada, Saint Mary's and Iowa State. The trip to Nevada was a homecoming for Reno native Austin Morgan, Jeremiah Kreisberg hails from Berkeley, Calif., a short distance from the Saint. Mary's campus while the trip to Iowa State was a homecoming for Ames, Iowa, native Jesse Pritchard.

•    The biggest test of the season, though, came in Lee Amphitheater when preseason No. 10 Florida visited on Jan. 6. The Gators return three starters from a squad that went 26-11 and fell one game shy of the Final Four last year.

•    The Florida game was one of two in the Amphitheater that will be nationally televised. The NBC Sports Network was in town for the game with the Gators, while CBS Sports Television will show the home game with Harvard on Feb. 23.

•    Yale kicked off Ivy League play on Jan. 19 at Brown. Five of the first six Ivy games were on the road.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity