After suffering cold shooting in their previous two games, the Cornell Big Red came out red hot Saturday, hitting 64 percent of their shots in a win at the previously unbeaten NJIT Highlanders. Cornell improved to 3-2 with the win, while NJIT dropped to 4-1. This win would put the two teams in a share for first in the Central New York Hoops Classic. Colgate could also clinch a first place share at 3-1 in the tournament with a win against Binghamton on Monday.
In no surprise, Matt Morgan led the Big Red with 34 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 6-of-10 from deep. He also had seven rebounds, two assists, and one block in the effort. Jimmy Boeheim had 15 points off of 7-for-11 shooting from the bench, also hauling down six rebounds with two of them being offensive rebounds. Cornell’s three-point specialist Jack Gordon came off of the bench with 10 points, while finally connecting on two three-point shots. Big man Josh Warren had a great game, with eight points on six assists, as he’s often the center of Brian Earl’s Princeton Offense. Steven Julian had his best game of the season, as he had four points off of perfect two for two shooting, eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
Cornell came out hot hitting their first shot just five seconds into the game. NJIT actually won the tip, but landed right in the hands of Terrance McBride who fired a strike to Matt Morgan who was cutting to the hoop for the finish. Cornell saw as big as a 15-point first-half lead, but the Highlanders cut that lead to just six with a little over a minute to play. Cornell finished the half on a mini-run, which included a three ball from Jimmy Boeheim and a pair of free throws from Matt Morgan. In the second half, Cornell slowly grew the lead to 21 points after a three pointer by Matt Morgan with 11:58 to go in the game. After that, the Highlanders would cut into the lead some, but it wasn’t enough as the Big Red left Newark victorious by 13 points.
The Big Red continued their improved defense, allowing the home team to shoot just 44.8 percent from the field, and 35 percent from three, both of which are improved numbers from last season. The Big Red were also able to hold star senior guard Diandre Wilson to just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting. A defensive effort like that against a pretty solid mid-major must please Cornell head coach Brian Earl. However, the Big Red would surrender 25 points apiece to guards Zach Cooks and Shyquan Gibbs. Every other Highlander that played was held to seven points or less, with four Highlanders being held scoreless.
It’s also worth noting that Matt Morgan is placed 55th in this week’s NBA mock draft at NBADraft.net.
Cornell’s next game takes them to Hartford, Conn. and the XL Center to face the Danny Hurley-led UConn Huskies. The Huskies are 3-1 coming off a second place finish at the 2K Empire Classic. The two teams will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. The game will be Cornell’s first TV appearance of the season, being live on ESPN3 with no ESPN+ subscription needed, as well as locally on SNY.