Teams Meet For First Time Since 2003
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After opening the season by rallying from a 17-point second-half deficit to defeat Central Connecticut on Saturday, the Yale men's basketball team is right back at it on Monday, travelling to Hartford to meet 18th-ranked UConn. Tip off for the Veteran's Day matinee at the XL Center is slated for 3 p.m.
Justin Sears sparked Saturday's big comeback by scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, both career highs. The Bulldogs trailed 63-46 with 14:12 remaining but outscored the Blue Devils 47-14 the rest of the way. There were plenty of contributors for the Bulldogs. Armani Cotton scored 17 points, while Javier Duren added 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists, despite getting in early foul trouble. Matt Townsend had eight points off the bench, Nick Victor scored six and Greg Kelley had five, including a big three-pointer that gave the Bulldogs a 69-67 lead with 5:48 left. In all 11 players saw action in the game and 10 scored. The comeback was the biggest by the Bulldogs since they overcame a 21-point deficit at Columbia in 2012.
3 Keys For Yale
Start Strong: The Bulldogs would be wise to get off to a better start against UConn. Rallying from a double-digit deficit against the Huskies isn't likely.
Utilize Its Depth: Eleven players saw action in Saturday's opener, and Yale has eight players that averaged at least 13 minutes last year. Having fresh legs on the floor at all times is important.
Keep The Crowd Out Of The Game: UConn has one of the most rabid fan bases in the country and Monday will be their first chance to see their team in action this season. The Bulldogs will try and keep Huskymania to a minimum.
Yale is playing UConn for the first time since the 2003 Preseason NIT. The Huskies were ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time. The Bulldogs led by three at halftime, but UConn rallied in the second half and went on to a 70-60 victory. The Huskies have won 12 straight over Yale and lead the all-time series 43-21. The Bulldogs' last victory over UConn came in 1986, 77-75 in overtime.
The Huskies, ranked 18th in the nation, opened the season on Friday night with a 78-77 victory over Maryland at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Shabazz Napier led the way for UConn with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Napier, along with Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun, form one of the top backcourts in the nation. The Huskies were picked second, behind only defending NCAA champion Louisville, in the American Athletic Conference preseason coaches' poll.
There are two players on the Yale roster from Connecticut. Isaiah Salafia, a Cromwell native, grew up a UConn fan, went to several games with his dad as a kid and attended Jim Calhoun's basketball camp on the Storrs campus. He also played with and against Shabazz Napier at recruiting camps in high school.
Brandon Sherrod is from Bridgeport. He played against UConn's three freshmen this summer in the Hartford Pro Am League.
In addition, Salafia, Sherrod and UConn's Tyler Olander were teammates on a high school all-star team in their senior year.
YALE PLAYER SPOTLIGHT – Javier Duren
• Had 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the opener against Central Connecticut.
• 10th in the Ivy League in assists (2.6 per game) last year.
• Led team with 80 assists and 37 steals, tied for third in scoring (7.7 ppg.) and fourth in rebounding (3.5 rpg.)
• One of only four players to appear in all 31 games.
• Started 12 of 14 Ivy League games…
• Suburban West Conference Player of the Year as a senior at Oakville High School.
• Played with the St. Louis Eagles and TeamRameyBasketball AAU teams
• AAU teammates included Brad Beal, who played at Florida, Butler's Roosevelt Jones, Wisconsin Milwaukee's Shaquille Boga and Kansas's Ben McClemore as well as Yale classmate Will Childs-Klein.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity