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Home Opener Is Here; Bulldogs Host Lehigh

Jordan Bruner (Keenan Hairston photo)
Jordan Bruner (Keenan Hairston photo)

Yale Coming Off Big Win Over Miami

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After traveling more than 20,000 miles, during which they won three of five games, including two against power conference opponents, the Bulldogs' home opener has finally arrived. Yale hosts Lehigh on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. ESPN+ has the video with Evan Ellis and Josh Hess on the call.

Yale (3-2) is coming off a big 77-73 victory over Miami on Saturday in the Hoophall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena. The Bulldogs rallied from a 15-point deficit early in the second half and were led by Miye Oni, who scored a career-high 29 points on his way to earning Ivy League Player of the Week honors. It was Yale's third win (Clemson in 2002 and Boston College in 2010) over an ACC school during James Jones' tenure as the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs, and the second this year against a power conference opponent. Yale opened the season with a dominant 76-59 victory over California in the Pac-12 China Game in Shanghai.

Now the Bulldogs are back in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater for three of their next five games. Over the last six seasons, Yale has posted a 59-17 (.776) home record, including winning the last eight home openers. The Bulldogs are 15-4 in home openers under Jones. This is the latest calendar date for the home opener since 2002-03.

Fans visiting Lee Amphitheater for the first time will see a balanced Yale offense that features four players scoring in double figures, led by Oni at 18.6 ppg., which is second in the Ivy League. Jordan Bruner (13.0 ppg.), Alex Copeland (11.2 ppg.) and Azar Swain (11.0 ppg.) are the other double-figure scorers.

Through games of Monday night, Yale was eighth in the nation in field goal percentage (51.5 percent), 15th in three-point field goal percentage (41.8 percent) and 28th in scoring offense (85.6 ppg.).

In addition, the Bulldogs share the Ivy League lead in rebounding margin (+3.8), are second in three-point field goal percentage defense (.274) and third in assists (16.8 per game).

Both Jones and Oni are approaching milestones. Jones is nine victories shy of 300 during his tenure at Yale. He is the third winningest coach in Ivy League history. Oni, meanwhile, needs 96 points to reach 1,000 in his career.

Wednesday's game is the start of a busy stretch for the Bulldogs, who play at No. 3 Duke on Saturday before a home date with Albany next Tuesday. Yale is then off for eight days for final exams.

HISTORY LESSONS

Yale has won three straight over Lehigh and leads the all-time series 10-8. Last year, in Bethlehem, Pa., Alex Copeland scored a career-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field to lead the Bulldogs to a back-and-forth 86-77 win. Miye Oni added 21 points and Blake Reynolds scored 17. Yale shot 53.6 percent from the field and had 21 assists on 30 field goals. Two years ago in New Haven, Copeland again had a big game vs. the Mountain Hawks, finishing with 20 points in Yale's 89-81 overtime victory. The first meeting between the teams was in 1904.

SCOUTING LEHIGH

The Mountain Hawks (5-2) have won four of their last five games, including an 82-70 home victory over Arkansas State on Saturday. Their only loss during the stretch came at Kansas State, 77-58 on Nov. 24. Like Yale, Lehigh has had success from long range. The Mountain Hawks' 43.4 three-point field goal percentage is good for ninth in the nation. At 5-2, Lehigh is off to its best start since 2012-13, when it started 9-2. Yale is the second Ivy League opponent for the Mountain Hawks, who beat Princeton 72-57 on Nov. 16. Kyle Leufroy (14.7 ppg.) shares the team lead in scoring and is shooting 56.7 percent (17-of-30) from three-point range. Pat Andree (14.7 ppg.) and Jordan Cohen (10.6 ppg.) also average double figures in scoring. Brett Reed is in his 12th season as the head coach at Lehigh.

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