In an Up and Down Season, a Statement Victory

Now that they've cleared the crowd off of Carril Court, what can we make of Saturday night's big victory for the Tigers? (Photo Credit: goprincetontigers.com)

At first, there was only euphoria. Sheer, blinding, unadulterated joy. There wasn’t room for anything else. Princeton beat Harvard on Carril Court as the legendary coach watched, besweatered as always, from the raucous stands. Mitch Henderson, the man who played for Carril and now carries on his legacy, had his first signature Ivy League win. The Tigers handed the Crimson its first Ivy League loss of the season Saturday night, knocking off a Top-25 team at home for the first time since the late “70s.

Who could blame the Princeton faithful for storming the court once the final buzzer sounded? Christmas came early for Tiger fans, after an Ivy League season that at times promised little more than a lump of coal. The win over Harvard, without a doubt, represented the zenith of Princeton’s season.

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IHO Power Poll: February 13, 2012

Fans stormed the floor at Jadwin Gymnasium Saturday night as Princeton knocked off previously unbeaten Harvard, keeping the league race interesting for at least one more weekend. (Photo Credit: dailyprincetonian.com)

Welcome to the seventh IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/13/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.

1. Harvard (7-1), (21-3)- Harvard had the Ivy League all but wrapped up after winning at the Palestra on Friday. Then Saturday happened, and now it’s game on once again. The Crimson’s performance at Jadwin was very uncharacteristic. The Tigers torched Harvard’s vaunted defense for 1.11 points per possession, time after time finding easy buckets on backdoor cuts. Not only that, the Crimson’s normally reliable free-throw shooting allowed the game to slip away, as Kyle Casey missed four of five from the stripe (including the front end of a one-and-one) to watch a tie game turn into a five point deficit. Harvard will have a chance to regroup with its next four games at home, but, thanks to its 23rd straight loss at Princeton, the Crimson is no longer the only team that controls its own destiny. -C. River Banks

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Saturday's Best

Best Upset: Princeton. The Tigers made sure that there would be no undefeated champion of the Ivy League this year, defending Jadwin from the Crimson for the 23rd consecutive year,  70-62. This may have been the most unlikely of those 23 home victories, as the jubilant Princeton crowd rushed the court at the buzzer. It was a back-and-forth affair the whole way as Harvard led by five at the half before Princeton finally pulled away in the final four minutes. The Tigers had five players in double figures, led by Ian Hummer”s 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Point guard TJ Bray had 12 points, while big man Brendan Connolly pitched in with 11 points and 6 rebounds. Denton Koon didn”t miss a shot, adding 10 points in 18 minutes (4-4 FG, 2-2 FT), and Mack Darrow rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10 to go with 5 boards. Princeton only missed one field goal and had one turnover in the game”s final five minutes. For Harvard, Keith Wright provided much of the offense, scoring 16 on 7-11 shooting, while Brandyn Curry had 15. Harvard yielded 70 points to an opponent for only the second time this season (Seattle scored 70 in a 80-70 Crimson victory back in early December).

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Friday's Best

Kyle Casey and Harvard won an ugly game at the Palestra to take full control of the Ivy League title chase. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Best Road Warrior: Harvard. It's not always pretty, but the Crimson continue to find a way to get it done behind great defense again. Wright, Rivard and Curry combined to go 1-15, but Harvard's depth saved them as Corbin Miller contributed 17 points in just 18 minutes. Kyle Casey dropped 15 points, while Wright was a vacuum on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds. Penn didn't receive any of the home cooking that some expected from a raucous night at the Palestra as the Quakers were whistled for 23 fouls, while Harvard was only whistled for 12 fouls. After the game, Rosen delivered this quote: “Usually, I'm a 'we' guy. We win. We lose. I

felt like I was totally to blame. I didn't hit the shots that I hit in my sleep, the shots I take day after day.” Of course, Rosen is bound to be hard on himself, but the Penn star did not deliver on this night, scoring 16 points on 21 shots. Cartwright pitched in with 12 points, while Bernardini was held to 2 points on 0-5 shooting. Harvard's grip on the Ivy title tightens after this one, and a sweep tonight at Princeton would all but end the race with three weekends to go.

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Game Preview: Harvard at Princeton

Douglas Davis is looking to spoil another Harvard title run tonight at Jadwin where the Crimson has not won since 1989. (Photo credit: goprincetontigers.com)

Tonight’s contest at Jadwin is ostensibly a revenge game, but it doesn’t feel like it. The Tigers simply are not the same team anymore. Dan Mavraides, Kareem Maddox, and Sidney Johnson have hit the bricks, Princeton is looking on from the outside of the title race, and the sad truth is that nothing, certainly not a mid-February matchup, will avenge the Crimson’s playoff loss a year ago. Still, tonight’s matchup is one of the best battles that the Ivy League has to offer.

First, the facts: Harvard has not won at Jadwin Gymnasium since 1989; it has not swept the Killer P’s on the road since the 1984-85 season; and it has never started 8-0 in league play. Even at 11-10, a good argument can be made that the Tigers are the second best team in the conference. Its wins over Buffalo, Florida St., and Rutgers are three of the best results on the Ivy League’s collective non-conference resume, and, despite sitting in fifth place, Princeton can easily climb the ranks with six of its final eight games at home.

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Game Preview: Dartmouth at Princeton

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After playing their first five Ivy League games on the road (and 12 of their last 13 games away from Central New Jersey), the Princeton Tigers finally return to Jadwin Gymnasium to face Dartmouth on Friday. Princeton is looking to get back to .500 in Ivy League play after losing to Yale in New Haven last week, while the Big Green is still searching for its first league win of the season.

History is not kind to Dartmouth’s hopes of notching a minor upset against the Tigers this weekend. As noted by the Dartmouth basketball website with a sort of grim determination earlier this week, since Jadwin Gym opened in 1968, the Big Green has won only 3 of 43 games at Princeton. The Tigers have won the last four meetings with Dartmouth, and have yet to lose back-to-back games in the Ivy League this season (granted, they’ve also failed to win back-to-back games against their Ivy competition, which doesn’t bode well for Harvard’s visit Saturday night, but that’s a concern for an entirely separate blog post).

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IHO Power Poll: February 6, 2012

Oh hello there Tommy! Yes, your Crimson are ranked first again in this week's IHO Power Poll. But with a southern weekend swing coming up, there's no telling where we'll stand next week. (Photo Credit: philly.com)

Welcome to the sixth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/06/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.

1. Harvard (6-0), (20-2)- The Crimson protected its home court over the weekend to remain undefeated in league play. Harvard showed little sign of weakness against Cornell on Friday night, building a 14-point lead at the break and affording its starters some rest in the second half (the bench saw 40 percent of the court time). The light load proved useful the following night, as the Crimson had to grind out a 57-52 victory over Columbia. Despite 11 missed free throws, Harvard built an 8-point lead with a little over five minutes remaining, but two threes and a three-point play from the Lions left the Crimson clinging to a 2-point lead with 2:39 to go. But Harvard executed down the stretch, getting a pair of stops and hitting five of its final six free throws (the Crimson took 32 on the night compared to just eight for Columbia) to ice the victory. The home sweep carried Harvard to the top of the Ivy League standings and sets up a huge showdown with Penn at the Palestra this Friday. -C. River Banks 

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Saturday's Best: Yale Sweeps the P's

Reggie Willhite and Greg Mangano led the Bulldogs to their first sweep of Penn and Princeton since the '06-'07 season. (Photo Credit: ctbulletin.com)

Quick thoughts from Saturday night”s results

Best Team: Yale. Yale gets the rare P”s sweep by taking down Princeton 58-54 at home. Reggie Willhite was the star, dropping 20 points, including a second-half highlight reel dunk, while grabbing 9 rebounds. Greg Mangano had another dominant performance as well, getting 20 points of his own (on 17 shots, though) to go with 12 rebounds, for yet another double-double. The Yale backcourt didn”t shoot well–Grace was 0-4, Morgan was 1-9–but they finally ended their turnover woes, limiting giveaways to 10. Princeton was coming off of a very hot shooting night against Brown, but the Tigers were held to 33% from the field (and an ice cold 19% from deep), with Ian Hummer”s 18 points leading the way. Princeton falls out of the title chase with their third loss of the season.

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Game Preview: Princeton at Yale

Brendan Connolly and the Tigers are in a must-win situation tonight as they go up against Greg Mangano and the Yale Bulldogs. (Photo Credit: nj.com)

After a crucial 60-53 win last night against Penn (11-10, 3-1 Ivy), the Bulldogs (14-5, 4-1 Ivy) have the chance to make a serious statement about their title aspirations with another win today against Princeton. The good news is that the Bulldogs have some momentum coming into this game. In their last two outings, since suffering a humiliating 65-35 loss at the hands of Harvard, the Bulldogs have been absolutely stellar on the defensive end, having allowed only 53 and 52 points respectively.

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Friday's Best: Yale knocks off Penn

Greg Mangano carried Yale to a big victory over Zack Rosen's Penn Quakers tonight at the John J. Lee Amphitheatre. (Photo Credit: ivyleaguesports.com)

Quick hitters from Friday night”s games

Best win: Yale. Tonight”s biggest victory has to go to the Yale Bulldogs. Penn had a lot of momentum late in this game, and the Bulldogs could have let it all slip away when they started to get sloppy with the ball in the second half. Yale”s guards turned it around though and Mangano decided that the Elis weren”t losing this one, grabbing two offensive rebounds off missed free throws (one was his own) in the final minute to seal the win. Turnovers continue to trouble this team as Reggie Willhite, Austin Morgan, and Mike Grace combined for 13 giveaways, but besides those lapses in judgement (which need to be corrected soon), the Yale guards were impressive. Morgan hit three critical three pointers under pressure; Willhite showed his typical hustle on both ends, grabbing key rebounds and knocking down a huge late-game jumper; and Mike Grace had his best game of the season. The North Carolina native was 5-6 from the field with four assists, showing a propensity for the bank shot and looking more dangerous than he has all year. Mangano was pissed off at the referees all game, but he stopped whining and took the game into his own hands down the stretch, denying Rosen the chance at a game-tying three by getting those monster rebounds. The big man showed great touch around the rim all day, finishing with 23 points on 8-13 shooting and 10 rebounds. If this was Round One of the Player of the Year battle between Mangano and Rosen, the Bulldog came out on top.

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