Cornell men’s basketball makes statement with convincing win over Princeton

Statement made.

If someone predicted that Cornell men’s basketball would beat Princeton in Ithaca, most wouldn’t be overly surprised. That’s exactly what happened Saturday afternoon.

But what may have surprised people is the way the Big Red did it.

Jumping ahead 18-17 after a three-pointer from senior forward Keller Boothby, the Big Red extended a 19-point lead at the half and knocked off the Tigers, 83-68.

Princeton, which made the Sweet 16 last season and opened this year’s campaign 9-0, received 21 votes in last week’s AP Top 25 poll.

Senior guard Isaiah Gray was sidelined for the Big Red, but Cornell easily filled the void. Junior guard Nazir Williams scored a game-high 20 points, connecting on all four of his tried from deep and hauling in eight boards. Senior guard Chris Manon delivered 16 points and 11 rebounds, as sophomore forward AK Okereke, starting in place of Gray, scored 12, as did senior forward Sean Hansen.

Cornell did typical Cornell things, such as connecting on nearly 58% of its shots from the floor and 36% of its threes.

But the most impressive part of the Big Red’s thumping of the Tigers was their defense.

Princeton sophomore guard Xaivian Lee met his season average of 17 points but shot just 3-for-13 as he made 11 trips to the free-throw line. Sophomore forward Caden Pierce also shot 3-for-13 and eight points while senior guard Matt Allocco was held to just seven.

Cornell’s defense has made notable strides over the last few weeks. The Big Red allowed just 60 points to Penn in a 17-point victory on Jan. 15 and allowed just six threes on the road in an 84-83 win over Brown five days later. Opponents are shooting just 32.8% from downtown against Cornell, which ranks 134th in the country. In a conference full of shooters, that bodes well for the Big Red.

At now 15-3 overall and 4-0 in the Ivy League, Cornell has the potential of a dream season if its defense can hold. And so far, it has.

Next weekend, the Big Red head to Dartmouth and Harvard for the first back-to-back of the season. The Big Green rank No. 334 in KenPom while the Crimson are No. 208 — two must-win games for No. 100 Cornell in the fight for Ivy Madness seeding and the regular-season title.

Four Ivy games down, 10 to go. Brian Earl has the Big Red exactly where they need to be.

1 thought on “Cornell men’s basketball makes statement with convincing win over Princeton”

  1. There goes the Two-Bid Ivy, at least for the men. I wonder how Princeton will respond next Friday at Yale? They have a long bus ride home tonight to stew over this game, and that could result in their coming out with intense purpose and focus six days from now. Or they could let their sub-par performance carry over to another hostile arena at Yale. It’s going to be fascinating to see how it plays out. Meanwhile, kudos to Cornell, Brian Earl, and the whole crew in Ithaca. They look like the real deal this year — more so than a year ago. With their depth, experience, and talent, this seems like the year for them to break through and either win a regular season title or go on a run in the IL Tournament, or both!

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