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Bulldogs Seek 19th Straight Home Win When Hartford Visits Monday

Jordan Bruner (Steve Musco photo)
Jordan Bruner (Steve Musco photo)

Yale Kicks Off 2017 With In-State Rival

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – 2016 was quite memorable for the Yale men's basketball team. The many highlights from the calendar year included a second straight Ivy League title and the first NCAA Tournament victory in school history, over Baylor in the first round. The Bulldogs hope for continued success in 2017, and it all gets started on Monday when in-state rival Hartford visits the John J. Lee Amphitheater at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. and the Ivy League Digital Network has the video.

Yale (6-5) hasn't played since a hard-fought 83-77 loss at Temple on Dec. 22 that snapped its four-game winning streak. The Bulldogs are closing in on the start of Ivy play with only Saturday's home game against Mitchell to go before a trip to Penn and Princeton on Jan. 13-14.

It's been a productive pre-conference season for the Bulldogs, who have wins over Washington, preseason Patriot League favorite Lehigh and perennial America East contender Albany on their resume. Through games of Dec. 28, Yale sat at No. 82 in the RPI, the highest of any Ivy school. Three of the Bulldogs' five losses have come against teams in the top-31 in RPI – Virginia (No. 12), Pittsburgh (No. 26) and Temple (No. 31).

Yale also has continued to dominate in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs are 4-0 at home this season after going a perfect 12-0 last year, the first undefeated home season at Yale since Payne Whitney Gym opened in 1932. In all, the Bulldogs have won 18 straight home games, which is tied with New Mexico State and Louisiana-Monroe for the fifth longest active streak in the nation through games of Dec. 28. Only Kansas (49), Oregon (34), Akron (23) and Miami, Florida (20) have longer home winning streaks. Yale's last home loss came on Feb. 21, 2015, 56-50 to Columbia.

Yale also will be looking to extend its winning streak against in-state opponents. The Bulldogs already have beaten Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut this season and have won nine straight overall against their Connecticut rivals. Yale's last loss to a state-opponent came in overtime at Quinnipiac in the 2014-15 season opener.

The biggest improvement the Bulldogs have made over the course of the season has come at the defensive end of the floor. Over the last five games, Yale is holding its opponents to 37.9 percent from the field.

Through games of Dec. 28, the Bulldogs lead the Ivy League in three-point field goal percentage (.392), three-point field goal percentage defense (.392), rebounding margin (+3.1) and offensive rebounding (11.4 per game).

Yale features a balanced attack with four players averaging double figures in scoring – Alex Copeland (13.8 ppg.), Miye Oni (12.3 ppg.), Sam Downey (12.1 ppg.) and Blake Reynolds (10.7 ppg.).

HISTORY LESSONS

Yale has won seven of the last eight meetings with Hartford, including an 88-53 victory last year in West Hartford. The Bulldogs are 3-1 in their last four games with the Hawks at Lee Amphitheater, including a 69-57 win in the last game in New Haven on Nov. 20, 2014. Overall, Yale leads the all-time series 9-7. The first meeting came in 1991, a 56-38 Bulldogs victory. The teams are playing for the 13th straight season.

The Hawks are the second America East opponent this year for the Bulldogs, who beat Albany 59-55 on Dec. 3.

SCOUTING HARTFORD

The Hawks (5-9) had their three-game winning streak snapped on Dec. 22 when they dropped a 105-75 decision at Davidson. Hartford's biggest win came over Boston College, 65-63 on Dec. 9. It was the first win over an ACC opponent in school history. Jalen Ross (20.9 ppg.) leads the team in scoring. He has scored in double figures in 28 straight games, dating back to January of last year, and has recorded seven 20-point games this season. The Hawks have attempted 328 three-pointers and are shooting 39.6 percent from beyond the arc. Hartford forces nearly 15 turnovers per game and averages 7.4 steals per contest. Yale is the second Ivy League opponent for UHart, who beat Dartmouth 70-66 on Dec. 13. John Gallagher, who is in his seventh year as the head coach of the Hawks, spent two years as the associate head coach at Penn.

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