Princeton rebounded nicely from a tough loss at Butler to notch two wins this week. Shaking off first half doldrums against Lafayette at home, the Tigers managed an overtime win, 81-80, surviving the Leopards’ 11-2 run to close out regulation. The victory is significant since this was precisely the kind of game the Tigers could not finish in Henderson’s first two seasons. Denton Koon, the leading Tiger scorer coming in, shot a miserable 3-16 from the field. Good teams, though, find a way to win on their off nights.
The Tigers made a quick weekend trip to Houston for a Saturday afternoon contest against Ben Braun’s Rice Owls. Watching his team throw the ball away must make Braun wistful for his Pac 10 days. The Tigers, who led 60-35 at one point, made quick work of the Owls, cruising to a 70-56 victory. The game marked the return to action of floor general T.J. Bray, who showed little, if any, rust in 15 productive minutes. Bray’s availability and the Tigers’ lead gave Henderson an opportunity to employ every conceivable combination of players. Ben Hazel is building an impressive case for a place in the crowded Tiger backcourt, making big threes and snagging more than his share of rebounds. Freshman big man Peter Miller continues to improve as he adjusts to the pace of the college game.
Huge tests await Henderson’s team this week. George Mason, coached by ACC veteran Paul Hewitt, visits Jadwin on Tuesday. The Patriots, coming off a 22 win season last year, have started this campaign at 4-1. Dave Paulsen’s Bucknell Bison, described by many as reloading after losing some key seniors from their NCAA tournament entry, welcome the Tigers to Lewisburg on Saturday, for their third meeting in as many years, each team winning at home. Bucknell’s Pomeroy Rating is comparable to Butler’s, about 40 slots higher than Princeton’s. If the Tigers can compete in these games they will benefit tremendously in the long haul.