Showdown Saturday for Men's Basketball at Cornell

Showdown Saturday for Men's Basketball at Cornell

Pictured: It will be a team effort for Harvard on Saturday as the Crimson battles two-time defending league champion Cornell in a battle of 3-0 teams in Ithaca, N.Y. (Mitchell Layton)

The Particulars

Harvard continues its lengthy road weekend Saturday night as the Crimson travels to a sold out Newman Arena for a 7 p.m. contest against the two-time defending league champion Cornell Big Red.

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Columbia Highlight 1: Van Nest drills a triple from the corner
Columbia Highlight 2: Lin dishes to Wright underneath
Post Game Clip: Amaker Talks about the victory
Post Game Clip: See the swarm of fans waiting for Jeremy Lin after the game

The Teams. The Task
Much has been made of Saturday’s game with Cornell’s vaunted talent and veteran club against a young, upstart Harvard team but with three undefeated Ivy teams, the “14-game tournament” is still plenty young.

Cornell enters the weekend as one of the hottest teams in the country, having won five straight and 15 of its last 16 with its lone loss at then-No. 1 Kansas. The Big Red boasts a 17-game home conference winning streak with its last loss coming to Harvard three years ago.

Cornell was unanimously picked to three-peat as conference champions. The Big Red returns all five starters, eight seniors, three All-Ivy selections, the Ivy Rookie and Defensive Players of the Year, the last two league players of the year and two Division I transfers (six transfers in all) from a team that repeated as League champions a year ago.

Harvard, which was picked to finish fourth in the preseason polls, has already matched its win total from last season and features eight underclassmen from its regular 10-player rotation.

The Book
Washington Post sports writer Kathy Orton, who authored “Outside the Limelight: Basketball in the Ivy League” will be at Newman Arena speaking about her book before the game.

The Leaders
Harvard and Cornell rank first and second in the following team categories: scoring offense (H 1), scoring margin (H 1), free throw pct. (H 1), field goal pct. (H 1), field goal pct. defense (H 1), rebounding offense (C 1), rebounding margin (H 1), assists (H 1), and defensive rebounds (H 1).

Strength vs. Strength
Cornell enters the game as one of the nation’s top two 3-point shooting teams with Cornell leading the Ivy at nearly 52 percent while making 9.5 triples per game. Harvard enters play as the Ivy’s leading 3-point defensive team (fifth nationally) at under 29 percent allowed.

Harvard faced the current national leader in 3-pointers, William & Mary, winning the meeting back in November.

The Series
Cornell leads the all-time series, 88-68 with the teams having split the last six meetings. Each of the past six games have had their share of dramatics. Cornell swept the series in 2007-08, stealing a last second victory at Harvard before clinching the league title at home in the next to last week of the season. Last year it was Harvard taking a one-point victory from the Big Red. Harvard’s last win at Cornell came back in 200607 with an 85-79 win to cap a season sweep.

Last Year’s Meetings
Last season saw the teams split with each winning on its home court - Cornell handily at Newman Arena and Harvard in a thriller at Lavietes Pavilion.

In the last meeting, Harvard made a final defensive stand to win, 71-70. On the game’s final possession, Cornell’s Louis Dale dribbled to the right side of basket and rose up for the potential game-winning jumper. Keith Wright blocked the shot and came down with the rebound as time expired.

The second half was a showcase of two of the Ivy League’s top three scorers in Jeremy Lin and Ryan Wittman. Lin scored 14 of his points and Wittman had 16, including 13 during a four-minute stretch. Lin and Drew Housman ’10 scored 20 points each while Wright finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Cornell’s Last Time Out
Cornell crushed Dartmouth 71-37 on Friday night. Max Groebe led all scorers with 15 points while Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman both had double figures.

If I Can make It There, I’ll make It Anywhere
Harvard will be going for its first Ivy weekend road sweep in the state of New York since 1999-2000 with wins at Columbia and Cornell in that order.

Harvard Coach Tommy Amaker
Tommy Amaker (Duke '87) begins his third season as head coach of the Harvard men's basketball team. He registered his 200th career coaching victory Nov. 13 in the 2009-10 season opener at Holy Cross.

He brings a 213-178 career head coaching record into the game, including a 109-83 record at Michigan at a 68-55 record at Seton Hall.

Amaker came to Harvard after a six year stint as Michigan's head coach. Inheriting a program that was reeling from institutional and NCAA sanctions, he led the Wolverines to the postseason three times, winning the 2004 NIT title, reaching the championship game of the 2006 NIT, and advancing to the second round of the 2007 tournament. The 2006-07 season was Michigan's second straight 20-win campaign and its third in four years. The Wolverines were ranked as high as No. 20 in the nation during the 2005-06 season.

Hot Shots
Friday’s win saw Harvard shoot 50 percent for the game for the ninth time this season. The Crimson is 9-0 when reaching that lofty mark. Against Columbia, Harvard hit on 50 percent of all its shots in both halves, including 3-pointers.

First Half, Second Half
Jeremy Lin scored 13 first half points and Brandyn Curry 13 second half points in a win at Columbia on 1/29. The 13 points represent a career-high for Curry.

Fresh Faces
Four of Harvard’s freshmen have scored in double figures this season:

Christian Webster -7
Kyle Casey - 5
Dee Giger - 4
Brandyn Curry - 1

One For The Road
Prior to its 74-45 win at Columbia this season, Harvard’s last Ivy road win on a Friday night during travel weekends was March 2, 2007 at Cornell (85-79).

Harvard’s last 20-point road victory on an Ivy travel weekend came on Feb. 27, 1999 at Yale (81-58).

Harvard’s last 20-point road victory on a Friday night of an Ivy travel weekend came on Feb. 16, 1996 at Columbia (71-44). The team won the next night at Cornell, 65-60.

The Last Time
Harvard has not started 4-0 in Ivy League play since going 5-0 to start the 1990-91 campaign which included a road sweep of Columbia and Cornell. It also marks the last time the team started 3-0.

Complete Game Notes
For complete games notes in PDF format, click on the link at the beginning of this page.