Led by Devin Cannady, Princeton ekes past Monmouth

The Tigers entered Saturday afternoon’s contest at Monmouth as a two-point favorite. The visitors covered, but barely.

Chalk up Princeton’s 60-57 comeback victory to senior leadership, particularly to Devin Cannady. His 18 second-half points, 21 overall, proved just enough to propel the Tigers past the Hawks, in what has become a spirited intra-state rivalry. King Rice’s club, off to a horrendous 0-6 start, was especially anxious to right the ship.

This one  was almost the polar opposite of the game two years ago on the same floor. The Hawks survived an amazing 96-90 shootout which was as exhausting to watch as it was to play. The Tigers stumbled out of the gate as the Hawks grabbed an early 10-2 lead after four minutes, extending that margin to 18-7 eight minutes in. A Myles Stephens three drew the Tigers within five, 20-15, midway through the first period. Both teams stalled leading to a four-minute scoreless stretch. The Tigers could manage a paltry five points in the final 10 minutes. Monmouth was not much better, but went into the locker room holding a 27-20 lead.

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Host Princeton bows to Fairleigh Dickinson, 77-66

The Tigers’ second Division I tilt, a home contest against Fairleigh Dickinson Wednesday, ended in a depressingly similar way to last week’s game at Lehigh.

Princeton held a 56-53 advantage at the 9:12 mark of the second period. The Tigers would not lead again. FDU went on a 20-7 run over the next eight minutes, coasting home with a convincing 77-66 road win. Tiger skipper Mitch Henderson alluded to the game as a “second punch in the face” for his club, per the Trentonian. For the second year in a row, the Knights have outscored the Tigers by 15 in the second stanza, although last year’s 22-point halftime advantage saved the Tigers.

The game started promisingly for Princeton, as Devin Cannady returned to the starting lineup, appearing to have recovered completely from what was described as a “high hamstring pull.” Cannady hit his first four threes from NBA range. His 15 points sent the home team into the locker room with a 34-30 lead.

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Princeton bested by Lehigh, 72-57

The Tigers’ Division I debut at Lehigh can best be described as forgettable. The Mountain Hawks, surely one of the Patriot League’s elite squads, soundly thrashed Princeton Friday, 72-57.

Last season, at Jadwin Gym, Lehigh raced out to a 22-point lead at the end of what some believe to be the worst half of basketball in the Mitch Henderson era. Princeton came back to make a game of it but could not get over the hurdle the team made for itself.

This year, the scenarios were reversed. Despite woeful shooting (7-for-25, 1-for-12 from beyond the arc) the Tigers displayed tremendous defensive energy, holding Lehigh to 28 first-half points. The Hawks held a very manageable two-point margin at the break, 28-26.

Disaster struck in the first four minutes of the second period when Lehigh went on a 16-3 tear to lead, 44-29. Realizing the Tigers probably could not hit the lake from a rowboat, Lehigh coach Brett Reed deployed his team in a zone, daring the Tigers to make threes. Reed was right. The Tigers shot 4-for-32 from deep.

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Matt Morgan: Watch him while you can

Matt Morgan’s Twitter photo shows an image Ivy fans should be glad is sticking around for one more year: Morgan in a Cornell uniform. (Matthew Clyburn via Twitter)

For the last three years, I have attended Cornell’s season opener against the Binghamton Bearcats. Both schools are a manageable drive north on I-81 from my home near Scranton. Each of these games has offered an interesting sideline, a story within the story, beyond the final score.

Two years ago, Brian Earl was making his head coaching debut at Cornell. At the same time, Binghamton’s shooting guard, J.C. Show, a product of my local high school who had been mildly pursued by Earl’s Tigers, took the court for the first time since transferring from Bucknell. Show’s 26 points helped Binghamton spoil Earl’s first game, while rather thoroughly mixing my emotions.

Last year, the teams tipped off in Ithaca. For the first time, Jimmy Boeheim, son of the Hall of Famer, appeared in a Cornell uniform. His parents and I were there to witness the event. The elder Boeheim first came to my attention when he played for the Scranton Miners in the old Eastern League in the 1960’s. His gritty, baseline-to-baseline combativeness won the hearts of thousands of fans in blue collar Scranton. When I encountered him at a concession stand during halftime, his reaction was typical coach Boeheim: “Get out of my way … ”

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Q&A with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson

Editor’s note: Our George Clark (Toothless Tiger) recently caught up with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson, who thoughtfully weighed in on Princeton basketball’s 2018-19 outlook, comparing the 2016-17 Tigers who went 16-0 in league play with last year’s 5-9 Princeton squad, previewing the program’s promising sophomore class, reflecting on rookie Jaelin Llewellyn living up to the hype, looking for Princeton’s defense to improve despite losing 2018 Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Amir Bell, explaining why Princeton and Penn are playing back-to-back in January this year … and much more:

Princeton men’s basketball goes back to work

The Tigers’ annual January reading period and their forced three-week hiatus come to an end this weekend with visits from the Yale Bulldogs and the Brown Bears to Jadwin Gym. This is a good time to assess the season to this point and offer some predictions for the remainder of the Ivy campaign.

After a 2-6 start, the Tigers rebounded nicely, winning five of the final six out-of-conference games to conclude that portion of their schedule at 7-7. Princeton was bitten by the injury bug for the third time in as many years.

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Princeton’s 12-day road trip ends on a high note

The Tigers capped off a hugely successful 12-day swing to the West Coast and beyond with a workmanlike 77-63 victory over the host Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Monday to conclude their their three games in the Diamond Head Classic. Only a two-point loss to Middle Tennessee State  in the tourney opener marred the Tigers road trip record of 4-1. Princeton finished its out-of-conference schedule at 7-7.

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Princeton splits two nail-biters in first two games of Diamond Head Classic

The Tigers came into the opener of this Christmas tournament hosted by the University of Hawaii as slight underdogs to the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State, winners of games in the last two NCAA tournaments, including a monumental upset over Michigan State in 2016.

In a game the Tigers led by as many as seven and never trailed by more than four, it took a big-time play by the Raiders’ great guard, Giddy Potts, to break the last tie with two seconds to go. The final: Middle Tennessee State 69, Princeton 67.

Once again the Tigers played quite well from the outset, leading 28-23 at the break. This was perhaps as good as the defense has shown over a 20-minute stretch all season. The Raiders are very well-coached, boasting a deep, talented roster, featuring size, strength and speed. They fully expect to make another deep run for Conference USA laurels.

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