Men's Basketball Heads to Ivy League Tournament as Top Overall Seed, Faces Cornell in Semifinals

Photo by Gil Talbot
Photo by Gil Talbot
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Harvard vs. Cornell
March 10, 2018
           12:30 p.m.
The Palestra
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Mike Couzens, Dalen Cuff
Harvard trails, 82-92
W, 98-88 (2OT) (March. 2, 2018)
Harvard vs. Cornell (PDF)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Earning the top overall seed while sharing its sixth Ivy League title with Penn, Harvard men's basketball will face Cornell in the semifinal round of the Ivy League Tournament on Saturday, March 10 at 12:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, and the winner will take on Penn or Yale in the championship on Sunday.

The Opening Tip
• Harvard is 17-12 on the season, including a 12-2 mark in Ivy League action. The squad's 9-1 start in league play was its best since 2014-15, when the program capped five-straight years starting 9-1 in Ivy play. All five of those teams qualified for postseason play, including four NCAA tournament berths.

• Sophomore Seth Towns leads the Crimson with 15.8 points per game, including 18.6 points per game in conference play, which ranked second in the league. He was named the Ivy League Player of the Year for his contributions, becoming the fourth Harvard player in program history to earn the honor.

• Harvard captured its sixth Ivy League championship, each coming under head coach Tommy Amaker, and the program's first since 2015, which capped a string of five-straight titles.

Last Time Out
Harvard held the Princeton Alumni Council Trophy for the sixth time, sharing the Ivy title with Penn after weekend wins over Cornell (98-88, 2OT) and Columbia (93-74).

Four Harvard players finished in double figures against the Lions, led by a season-high 17 points from junior Corey Johnson. The sharpshooter finished 5-for-8 from 3-point range, and the Crimson tied the program record with 17 made 3-pointers in the game, while doing it in 14 fewer attempts.

Sophomore Chris Lewis led the way over Cornell with a career-best 29 points, including an 11-for-13 mark from the field and a 7-for-9 tally at the stripe, to go with seven rebounds and three blocks. Classmate Christian Juzang recorded his first-career double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while sophomore Seth Towns also scored 20 points with four rebounds.

Player of the Year
Sophomore Seth Towns became the fourth player in program history to be named Ivy Player of the Year, joining Joe Carrabino '85, Keith Wright '12 and Wesley Saunders '15. He is the first underclassman to win the honor in a decade, as Cornell's Louis Dale earned the award as a sophomore in 2007-08.

The Columbus, Ohio native was also a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy League first team. Towns led the Crimson with 15.8 points per game on the season, including 18.6 per night during Ivy play, which ranked second in the league. A versatile scorer, Towns hit 49.3 percent of his 3-point attempts in Ivy play while hitting the third-most triples. He also averaged 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists this season.

All-Ivy League
Sophomore Chris Lewis was also named to the All-Ivy League first team after establishing himself as the most dominant interior presence in the conference. Lewis scored 12.7 points per game with 5.5 rebounds and a league-best 1.6 blocked shots per game.

Sophomore Justin Bassey was an honorable mention selection, as Harvard had a league-best three players with All-Ivy honors. His defensive presence helped Harvard to a league-best scoring defense at 66.9 points per game, and 65.6 points during Ivy play. The Denver, Colorado native averaged a team-best 5.7 rebounds per game from the wing, while scoring 7.5 points and dishing 2.6 assists per game.

The 200-Win Club
Tommy Amaker, The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball, became the fifth coach in Ivy League history to reach 200 wins with an Ivy school with a win over Dartmouth Jan. 20. Amaker was the second-fastest to achieve the honor, doing it in 315 games. Princeton's Pete Carril did it the quickest, in 286 games, while Penn's Fran Dunphy (316 games) and Yale's Joe Vancisin (415) and James Jones (417) have also reached 200 wins.

Amaker has 386 total wins as a Division I head coach, which also spans time at Seton Hall and Michigan. He is already the all-time winningest head coach in Harvard basketball history, surpassing Frank Sullivan with a win over Boston College Dec. 7, 2016.

The Ivy League Tournament
Harvard earned its second-straight trip to the Ivy League Tournament, joining Penn and Yale as repeat participants. Cornell replaces Princeton as the fourth team.

Harvard earned the top overall seed for the first time, as the Crimson was the second seed a year ago. By virtue of receiving the No. 1 seed, Harvard will earn an automatic berth to the NIT should it not win the Ivy Tournament.

Community Involvement

Sophomore Seth Towns has been one of the top shooters in the Ivy League this season, as he leads the league in 3-point percentage (.444) and ranks in the top-10 for 3-pointers made (59). Towns also ranks seventh in the league in overall scoring (15.8 points) and 12th in rebounding (5.4 boards).

In Ivy games only, Towns ranks second with 18.6 points and 2.6 triples per game on 49.3 percent shooting from deep.

Scouting Cornell
Cornell is 12-15 this season, including a 6-8 mark in Ivy play, which is tied for fourth. The Big Red is making its first appearance in the Ivy League Tournament.

Matt Morgan leads the Big Red with 22.4 points per game, which ranks ninth in the country and first in the Ivy League. Stone Gettings is also in double figures with 17.0 points to go with a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game.

This Season Against Cornell
Harvard went 2-0 this season against Cornell, besting the Big Red 76-73 in Ithaca before thwarting a late push in double overtime at home, 98-88. 

Harvard shot 50 percent from the field against Cornell, led by 78.3% from Chris Lewis, who posted 23.0 points per game against the team. Seth Towns (17.5), Christian Juzang (16.0) and Justin Bassey (13.5) also averaged double figures against them.

Bonus Coverage
Friday is media day at the Ivy League Tournament, and the Ivy League Network will have full coverage of its interviews, open practices and team-by-team breakdowns. The coverage is free on the ILN, with no registration required.

Additionally, the Ivy League Network will cover the tournament outside of ESPN's windows, including highlights and interviews on both Saturday and Sunday

Ivy League Network
The Ivy League Network returns for a fifth season as the home for all live streaming and on-demand video content for each of the conference's eight institutions. Broadcast in full HD and featuring a live score bug and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight. Full archives of every game on the Ivy League Network are also available.

Multiple subscription options are available to fans, including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Network or to sign-up today, click here, or download the Ivy League Network app! The #ILN is also available on Apple TV and Roku.