Keys to the game: No. 3 Yale vs. No. 1 Princeton

Princeton pulled away late from Yale at Jadwin Gym, 66-58, in January and thumped the Elis, 71-52, in a dazzling display of defensive acumen in New Haven last month.

Keys for Yale

Free up Oni

Yale isn’t going to win this game without a monster performance from freshmen phenom Miye Oni, who had a much better game three versus Harvard than games one or two. Oni is at his best when he can receive and shoot, adding the three-point shot to his arsenal during games. But the Tigers’ harassing on-the-ball defense won’t easily allow that, so the Bulldogs need to free him up with screens and in transition. Oni was held to five points on 1-for-10 shooting at Jadwin, but he’s capable of much, much more.

Take care of the basketball

The Elis got flustered on the perimeter in both games against Princeton, committing 14 turnovers in each game. But against Harvard Saturday, Yale committed just eight turnovers, including just four among its starters. The Elis again were cold from deep against Harvard, but their efficiency allowed them to score 1.06 points per possession anyway, just enough.

Defensive rebounding

One reason Princeton beat Penn Saturday was the offensive glass, which Myles Stephens cleaned often in the second half. It’s not Princeton’s strong suit, but great teams do what they need to do. If Yale feels the need to break out its 1-3-1 zone again, the Elis need to ensure they’re positioning themselves appropriately after shots are taken.

Keys for Princeton

Relax

Princeton looked tense in the first half Saturday, and its offense minus Stephens and Amir Bell looked hesitant and confused the entire game (or at least until overtime). The Tigers may not be playing with house money, but they’re the best team in this tournament, and they need to play like it from the opening tip, particularly against a Yale defense that can sometimes overplay things.

Shoot in a rhythm

In related business, Princeton’s shooters must make sure they’re firing within a rhythm and not just settling, which was a major factor in the Tigers’ 5-for-18 performance from deep Saturday, including 1-for-12 from Spencer Weisz, Steven Cook and Devin Cannady.

Keep Yale away from the foul line

Yale ranks first in the conference in FTA/FGA, while Princeton ranks last. If both teams are struggling from deep again, free throws are going to play a crucial role, a facet of the game that the Elis are comparatively more accustomed to taking advantage of. Look for Trey Phills and Alex Copeland to get to the foul line in an impactful way in this game.

 

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