Game Preview: Brown at Columbia

Columbia will rely on Mark Cisco in the post to attack a depleted Brown front court as the Lions take on the Bears at Levien on Friday night. (Photo credit: gocolumbialions.com)

Columbia comes into this matchup with some positive momentum after splitting last weekend's northern jaunt up to Hanover and Allston. The more impressive performance for the Lions came in the loss to Harvard, a game Columbia trailed by two with only minutes remaining. Barbour continues his impressive run through the league as the conference's leading scorer and Cisco is right on Mangano's heels as one of the league's top rebounders. When the Lions get solid production from a third player, usually Lyles or Rosenberg, they are a dangerous team.

Brown, on the other hand, continues to struggle. The Bears looked promising through their first four Ivy games, getting a victory at home against Dartmouth, and keeping things interesting against Yale and Harvard. Last weekend was a big step back though, as the Bears' roster was depleted due to injury. Princeton came into the Pizz and pulled away early, never looking back in a double-digit victory, and an angry Penn team came in the next night and did the same thing. At 1-5, things look like they may be unraveling quickly for a Brown team with some very tough road trips still on the schedule.

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Season Preview: Columbia Lions

The Lions will only go as far as All-Ivy guard Noruwa Agho can carry them. (Photo credit: gocolumbialions.com)

The good news for Columbia is that they return a proven backcourt duo in Noruwa Agho and Brian Barbour. The pair made for a dangerous tag-team last year, dominating foes that allowed them to get to the rim and take high percentage shots. The Lions lived and died by Agho and Barbour, as the pair accounted for 47.9 percent of Columbia’s points during the conference season. Despite this backcourt dependence, Columbia could very easily have finished last year in the top half if they had held on to late-season leads at Princeton and against Yale. In games where the Lions weren’t outmanned in the frontcourt, they performed extremely well, pulling out sweeps of Cornell and Dartmouth, and splits with Penn and Brown. It all starts with the two guards though, and there’s no reason to think that this season will be very different.

In Agho, Columbia has a true scorer. As much as some critics disparaged his efficiency numbers last year (and the All-Ivy First Team selection certainly did take his fair share of shots), Agho shouldered a bigger load than any other player in the league because the Lions lacked another consistent scoring option on the wing or down low. With little help surrounding him, Agho coasted to the conference scoring title. Meanwhile, Barbour quickly emerged as one of the league’s best point guards, posting the conference’s second-best offensive efficiency numbers behind Harvard’s Oliver McNally. First-year coach Kyle Smith leaned heavily on his young point guard, as Barbour played the third-greatest share of minutes for his team of anyone in the Ivy at 86.9 percent (Agho was fourth at 85.5 percent).

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