Behind a balanced attack, Columbia tops Colgate

Columbia used a strong second half to recover from a halftime deficit and hold off Colgate, 69-64, this afternoon in Morningside Heights.

Four Lions scored in double digits — Maodo Lo (15), Cory Osetkowski (14), Steve Frankoski (13) and Kyle Castlin (12) — while Isaac Cohen contributed 10 assists. Cohen became the first Lion to post double-figure assists since Brian Barbour did it against Elon in 2012.

Check out our two-minute recap, with audio from Kyle Smith.

Colgate suffered an injury to their leading scorer on the season, Alaska native Damon Sherman-Newsome, midway through the first half, but that didn’t stop the visitors from putting a scare into Columbia. In particular, the Light Blue struggled to stop the shooting of senior center Ethan Jacobs, who posted a career-high 26 points. On the afternoon, the Raiders shot 52 percent from the field and 53 percent from long-range.

Read moreBehind a balanced attack, Columbia tops Colgate

Quick Hits: Columbia falls to UConn

The Chairman takes over America. (Getty)
The Chairman takes over America. (Getty/sport1.de)

BRIDGEPORT, CT. — Three thoughts and some awards from last night’s game between Columbia and Connecticut, won by the Huskies, 80-65.

1. The Defense Rests: Columbia was carried through the first chunk of the season by its stingy defense, which held several opponents under 40 points per game and kept Kentucky to a season-low total. The last two games, though, have seen the Light Blue surrender over 70 points twice. And the defense completely collapsed down the stretch against UConn, allowing plenty of too-open looks for three and far too many alley-oops. Every time it looked like the Lions could get back in it with a stop, the Huskies would strike again.

Is this a long-term worry? Firstly, this is the second game in three nights for Columbia, and they were both against top opposition. Fatigue seemed to be affecting the Lions down the stretch. Secondly, UConn’s offensive talent should not be ignored — it’s unlikely Columbia will face a better point guard this year than Ryan Boatright, Connecticut’s star senior. But the defensive struggles are absolutely worrisome, and will be something to keep an eye on as the Lions wrap up nonconference play.

Read moreQuick Hits: Columbia falls to UConn

The shellacking in Charlottesville: No big deal

Field goals were few and far between for Harvard at Virginia Sunday. (foxsports.com)
Field goals were few and far between for Harvard at Virginia Sunday. (foxsports.com)

There is no way to sugarcoat a 49-point loss: Harvard shot a pitiful 16 percent percent from the floor, while Virginia shot almost 60 percent. No matter how many cringe-inducing Harvard statistics are highlighted, however, this game’s story was all about Virginia’s excellence; not about Harvard’s incompetence. Over 40 minutes of play, Virginia showed us all that they really are a Final Four-caliber team. Crimson fans who delusionally believed that Harvard might be of the same caliber learned today that they’re not. For the rest of Harvard’s fan base, however, this game shouldn’t be too concerning.

First of all, in the same way that “a win is a win,” a loss is just a loss. When the dust settles from this debacle, Harvard’s players will realize that, in the big picture, nonconference regular season games against top opponents don’t matter much (unless, of course, you win). What matters most for Ivy League teams is that they perform well in the “14-game tournament.” On a day when the Crimson’s unluckiness seemed to show no bounds, Harvard is lucky that this flat performance came against a nonconference foe.

Read moreThe shellacking in Charlottesville: No big deal

What No. 6 UVA's 76-27 annihilation of Harvard means

Tommy Amaker holds up one finger for every field goal the Crimson made at UVA ... except he
Tommy Amaker holds up one finger for every field goal the Crimson made at UVA … except he”s holding up two too many. (cbssports.com)

Harvard embarrassed itself in Charlottesville Sunday, scoring just eight points in the entire first half en route to a 76-27 loss.

It was the rare game in which the box score really does tell the story. Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers went a combined 0-for-17 from the field, and Steve Moundou-Missi was the only Crimson player to score a single field goal (and yes, he scored just one). The Crimson took 50 shots. They best online casino missed 42 of them. They notched one assist the entire afternoon. UVA, in stark contrast, shot 59.6 percent, including 54.5 percent from beyond the arc.

It’s beyond obvious to say that a 49-point loss doesn’t bode well for Harvard, but the devil is in the details. Under coach Tony Bennett, UVA’s defenses have always been stout, and this year’s edition is no different, as it’s currently ranked third in the country by KenPom. Harvard’s lack of sharpshooters beyond Corbin Miller was obvious all game. If the Crimson can’t get high-percentage shots off of dribble-drives, this is apparently what happens.

Read moreWhat No. 6 UVA's 76-27 annihilation of Harvard means

Quaker eye for the Columbia guy

Maodo Lo - totally worth a Quaker crush. (zimbio.com)
Maodo Lo – totally worth a Quaker crush. (zimbio.com)

Because Columbia happens to be my hometown Ivy, I attended the Hofstra game tonight.  First, a confession:  Many years ago, I applied to Columbia, which rejected me. In doing so, the CU admissions office simultaneously displayed amazing good taste while causing permanent and irreparable damage to its institution’s future endowment.  Thus, I maintain a certain level of enmity toward this particular school.

In any event, I thought the Lions played a pretty good all-around game—that is if “all-around” refers to Maodo Lo.  I was extremely impressed by his ability to control the game. He looked absolutely fearless in handling the point. (I suppose if you’ve stared down No. 1 Kentucky on their home floor and almost won, the Hofstra Pride will not significantly loosen your sphincter tone.)  No more Barbour, no more Rosenberg, no more Lyles, the Lions are clearly his team now.

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Princeton routs Lipscomb, Amir Bell steps up

The Tigers got what they needed last night at Jadwin: a struggling team on the road. The lopsided matchup resulted in a 77-54 Princeton win in a game dominated by the home team almost from the first tap. Senior designated shooter Clay Wilson had a holiday party for himself, canning five three-pointers and four free throws for a game and career high 19 points.

Amir Bell, the Tigers’ heralded freshman point guard, played perhaps his best overall game, leading the Tigers in minutes played (34) and assists (five), while adding 11 points and two steals. Best of all, he kept his personal fouls to a manageable three. Many observers believe Bell may hold the key to the Tigers’ success in league play, especially if he can continue to score in double figures every night.

One ominous note – senior captain Denton Koon was not on the bench, although nothing official has been released by the basketball office. An October knee injury sidelined the versatile 6-foot-8 Missouri native whose status going forward is now doubtful at best.

The Tigers put out the welcome mat for Liberty on Monday evening before taking a break for Christmas.

IHO Awards of the Week – Dec. 15

The week that was in Ivy roundball, rankings included:

8. Penn (3-5)

Three wins in a row vs. teams whose KenPom rankings add up to 970 (Navy: 322, Binghamton: 340, Marist: 308)

7. Dartmouth (3-5)

Nice 21-point win at UMass-Lowell, but Dartmouth really has become Gabas Maldunas, Alex Mitola, Connor Boehm and a bunch of guys. That trio accounted for 50 of the Big Green’s 67 points in a loss at Jacksonville St.

6. Princeton (3-8)

More losses than any other Ivy. Princeton lost by 14 to St. Peter’s, which Brown beat by 12 in the Bears’ season opener, so the Tigers fall below Brown here. Still, an outstanding first half at Cal showed that the Tigers are capable of much more. Untapped upside still looms large for Princeton.

Read moreIHO Awards of the Week – Dec. 15

Columbia beats Kentucky, 46-56

Kyle Smith's squad was on top of its slow-paced game at No. 1 Kentucky last week. (gocolumbialions.com)
Kyle Smith’s squad was on top of its slow-paced game at No. 1 Kentucky last week. (gocolumbialions.com)

When you’re an Ivy League team and you play the No. 1-ranked team in the country, your goal is respectability. To show your fans that you can hang tough with blue-chip NBA prospects, to make your alumni proud on the biggest possible stage, and to demonstrate to basketball observers anywhere that the Ivy League is not to be taken lightly.

The Columbia Lions checked all three of those boxes on Wednesday — and many more. They scored eleven points before Kentucky — a team with NINE All-Americans coming out of high school, playing at home in one of the toughest gyms in the country — scored even one. They led at halftime, 25-23, ensuring an ESPN2 halftime show that focused on how good Columbia was playing.* It was 27 minutes into the game before Kentucky seized the lead, as the Lions forced the Wildcats to activate their considerable potential in a game they would have expected to be a walk in the cake. It was a game that will linger long in the memory of the long-suffering Light Blue boosters.

Read moreColumbia beats Kentucky, 46-56

Princeton can’t hang on at California

Princeton played its best half of the season at California Saturday evening, shooting a sizzling 62 percent from the field, including 8-for-14 from three-point range, to lead 37-28 at intermission.

The second half was far more typical of the Tigers’ season, however, as the Golden Bears stepped up the defensive pressure and unleashed NBA prospect Tyrone Wallace, who scored 20 of his game-high 23 points after the break. The game was closer than the final score (67-57) suggests.

Terrific ball movement gave the Tigers numerous open shots early in the game. Four different players accounted for the first seven shots, all good, giving the Tigers a lead that reached 11 points.

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