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Early Bird Special Friday At JLA as Bulldogs Host Columbia At 5 p.m.

Nick Victor (Steve Musco photo)
Nick Victor (Steve Musco photo)

Cornell Visits New Haven On Saturday

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NEW HAVEN, Conn.  – Yale completed a perfect month of January with a sweep of Penn and Princeton. The Bulldogs hope to get February off on the right foot when Columbia and Cornell visit this weekend. Friday's matchup with the Lions features the last two undefeated teams in the Ivy League and tips off a bit earlier than usual at 5 p.m. so it can be televised nationally on FoxSports1. Cornell comes to town on Saturday in a more traditional 7 p.m. start. That game is available on the Ivy League Digital Network and ESPN3.

February has been kind to the Bulldogs in recent years. Yale has a 74-54 mark in the month during James Jones' tenure as head coach. Jones, the third winningest coach in Ivy League history, has his team playing very good basketball entering the month. The Bulldogs (13-5, 4-0 Ivy) have won eight straight games, their longest winning streak since the 1961-62 team closed the regular season with nine consecutive victories. That streak ended with a loss to Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

One subplot to Friday's battle of Ivy unbeatens is Brandon Sherrod's pursuit of an NCAA record. Sherrod, who shared the Ivy League Player of the Week Award with Cornell's Matt Morgan, has made 25 straight shots from the field dating back to the Jan. 16 Brown game, which is one shy of the NCAA single-season record shared by Eastern Michigan's James Thompson, who did it earlier this season, and Bowling Green's Torian Oglesby in 2012.

Sherrod is averaging 18.8 points in Yale's four league games after he averaged 9.1 points during non-conference play.

The rest of the Bulldogs have been pretty accurate from the field as well. Yale is shooting 53.2 percent in its four Ivy wins.

The Bulldogs also remain one of the top rebounding teams in the nation. Yale, which has led the league in rebounding margin in each of the last four years, is fourth in the nation with an 11.2 margin and sixth in offensive rebounds with 14.72 per game.

In addition, Yale leads the league in scoring defense (63.9 ppg.) and is second in field goal percentage defense (.402).

Makai Mason (15.7 ppg.) and Justin Sears (15.4 ppg.) have been in a season-long battle for Yale's scoring supremacy. Sears, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, reached a significant milestone in last Saturday's win over Princeton, becoming just the sixth player in school history to score 1,500 career points. Sears is the only player at Yale to score at least 1,500 points and grab at least 700 rebounds.

The Bulldogs are 8-0 at home this season and have won 10 straight dating back to last year.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Defense: Yale has held its four Ivy opponents to just 39.5 percent shooting from the field. The Bulldogs will get a stiff test this weekend. Columbia (76.5 ppg.) is the second highest scoring team in the league, while Cornell features freshman sensation Matt Morgan, who is averaging 30 points in league games.

Nick Victor: Victor does many of the little things that are key to Yale's success. He has emerged as a shot blocker and three-point shooting threat this year to go along with his excellent passing and first-rate defense.

Home Court Advantage: Yale has been dominant in Lee Amphitheater this year and has won 10 straight at home overall. Columbia, though, is the last opponent to come into JLA and leave with a victory, knocking off the Bulldogs 56-50 last February. 

HISTORY LESSONS

The Bulldogs have won 11 of the last 14 meetings with Columbia. The Lions, though, took the last game, 56-50 last February at Lee Amphitheater. Each of the last three games between the teams has been decided by six points or less. 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 Lions lead the all-time series 125-104.

Yale has won five straight over Cornell, including two straight at Lee Amphitheater. Cornell leads the all-time series 110-108. The teams first played in 1899, a 49-7 Yale victory. It was the Bulldogs' first game against an Ivy League opponent.

Yale has swept the Columbia-Cornell home weekend in three of the last five years.

SCOUTING COLUMBIA

The Lions (15-6, 4-0 Ivy) are coming off a thrilling 55-54 victory at Harvard last Saturday. Alex Rosenberg's fade-away jumper as time expired was the winning basket. Columbia had trailed by as many as 20 points earlier in the game. The Lions, who have won six straight overall, are 4-0 to start Ivy League play for the first time since 1993-94. Maodo Lo (15.8 ppg.) leads the team in scoring. Columbia is second in the league in scoring offense (76.5 ppg.) and free throw percentage (.721).

SCOUTING CORNELL

The Big Red (9-9, 2-2 Ivy) play at Brown on Friday. Cornell features the league's two leading scorers in Robert Hatter (19.9 ppg.) and Matt Morgan (18.5 ppg.). Hatter, though, has been injured and hasn't played since the Howard game on Jan 6. After opening Ivy play with a pair of losses to Columbia, the Big Red swept the Harvard-Dartmouth road trip last weekend. Morgan, a freshman, scored 33 points in the win at Harvard and had 32 in the victory at Dartmouth. He shared the Ivy Player of the Week award with Brandon Sherrod in addition to being named Rookie of the Week.

Report filed by Tim Bennett (timothy.bennett@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity