Defense nonexistent as Yale tops Cornell, 98-92

In a matchup between two of the league’s best teams, Yale was able to escape Ithaca with a 98-92 win in a game in which nobody really seemed to play much defense. Both teams shot 53 percent from the field and well over 40 percent from three. Yale moved up to 17-4 overall (7-1 Ivy) and Cornell dropped down to 13-11 (5-3) but still remain two games over fifth place in the league, with a Penn loss.

Cornell came out running, literally. Steven Julian won the opening tip and it went right to Joel Davis who booked it to the bucket for the first basket, three seconds in. He had another layup less than a minute later, but Jimmy Boeheim had a layup in between, and Morgan added a layup of his own to take an early 8-0 lead. James Jones was forced to take an early timeout for the Bulldogs.

The lead didn’t last long, Yale was up 12-11 by the first media timeout. The first half was pretty tight, until just a few minutes left when Yale got the lead to ten points. Miye Oni was held to just six points at the break, where Yale led 45-38.

If Ivy fans didn’t know, Miye Oni had actually dreamed of going to and playing at Cornell because that is where his older sister had attended. He didn’t receive interest from then-coach Bill Courtney and his staff until he was committed to Yale, and he wanted to remain loyal to Bulldog fans by staying. Because of that, he was taunted by Big Red fans, as somewhat expected.

The little defense there was in the first half totally imploded in the second half, with the teams scoring a combined 107 points in 20 minutes (wow). Cornell evened it back up early in the second half after a Matt Morgan three and two free throws. The Big Red took the lead in their next possession on a Jimmy Boeheim three.

Cornell quickly got the lead up to six, but a few short minutes later, Yale was back up. Cornell went down nine, but cut it to two thanks to Morgan and Jack Gordon getting it going on a mini-run.

With 2:42 left, Miye Oni hit a dagger from three, and Cornell was down 10. The Big Red did rally a bit and got it to six with 24 seconds left. They could have gotten closer, but the referees had a couple of bad calls against Cornell, giving Yale free throws. Jimmy Boeheim got a good look from three to cut it to three with 20 seconds left, but it went too long and that about did it. Boeheim hit a layup with a few seconds left, and Cornell fell, 98-92.

Poor rebounding bit Cornell again

Cornell’s rebounding was, uh, well, not great. The Big Red were outrebounded 38-27 and got killed on the offensive boards 15-6. Did Yale get a few friendly bounces? Sure. But if it doesn’t go directly to the guy on offense, defenders should be able to get the ball if they box out properly, and Cornell had issues there.

Matt Morgan led all scorers with 35 points, setting the Newman Arena scoring record. He had five threes and some great finishes down low. Trey Phills wasn’t playing bad defense at all. It’s just that Morgan was on. And the shots he made weren’t open shots either. He also had six boards, three steals and two assists, while improving his case for Ivy Player of the Year.

Morgan also surpassed 2,200 points in the game, now less than 300 points from the conference scoring record. It may be possible with a bid to the Ivy League tournament and or appearance in the CIT or CBI, but that still remains unlikely. Cornell would have to play two or three postseason games after the Ivy League Tournament. If Cornell was to continue their play and make it to the Ivy Tournament but not play in the postseason beyond that, Morgan would finish about 130 points short of the record at his current pace.

Jimmy Boeheim quietly had a great night for Cornell. In the first half, he missed three wide-open three-pointers but finished with a career-high 24 points, following 21 points the night before. Could it be good enough for his first Player of the Week award? We’ll see.

Jack Gordon also had a sneakily good night for Cornell. He had 15 points in just 14 minutes, including a three and eight free throws. Josh Warren struggled in this game as a shooter, going just 3-for-10 but still contributing with six rebounds and six assists.

Both teams had nine turnovers and six blocks. Four of Cornell’s blocks come from Steven Julian, and all nine of Yale’s turnovers came via steals. Yale had 20 assists to Cornell’s 14, and both teams drew 18 fouls.

It’s also worth noting that Cornell had its best attendance in years, nearing a sellout at more than 3,600 people in the stands! Way to go, Newman Nation!

Yale’s three-man show

Paul Atkinson led Yale with 23 points off the bench, grabbing 10 rebounds too. He also shot an efficient 9-for-13 from the field. Jordan Bruner had 22 points off an efficient 7-for-9 night himself. He also had eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Miye Oni notched 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He shot 7-for-17 on the night and really started to become himself in the second half after really struggling in the first.

Alex Copeland added nine, while Azar Swain, Trey Phills and Blake Reynolds each had eight.

Second round of games begin

Yale now heads home for its next four games, starting off with a game on ESPNews against Dartmouth, which is coming off road losses to Penn and Princeton by a combined four points. The Elis then have a second shot at Harvard, the only team handing them a loss in conference play.

Cornell hits the road for the next four games, starting with a big game at Princeton, who the Big Red lost to in overtime on Feb. 4. Princeton is tied for third in the Ivy standings at 5-3 with Cornell, which goes to Penn Saturday. Penn is currently two games behind Cornell and having a hard time piecing multiple wins in a row. The top and bottom of the league can really separate next weekend, and a bad weekend for Penn may result in the Ivy Madness lineup pretty much set in stone.

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