Is Princeton men’s basketball poised to repeat as Ivy League champions?

Having reigning Ivy Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan should help Princeton down the stretch of the Ivy League title race. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

At the midpoint of the Ivy League season, the Princeton men’s basketball team sits in a familiar position:  tied for first place in a crowded field of evenly matched teams. At 5-2 in conference play, the Tigers are tied atop the league standings with their new rival, the Cornell Big Red. Lurking not far behind is an upsurging Dartmouth team and resurging Yale squad each at 4-3, while three other teams – Brown, Harvard and Penn – remain within striking distance with a record of 3-4.  Only one team in the Ancient Eight – Columbia – appears to be out of the running with a conference record of 1-6.  

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Manon goes for 23 as Cornell men beat Brown, 80-73

No Nazir Williams, no problem.

Despite missing the standout sophomore guard due to injury, the Cornell men preserved and overcame a difficult perimeter shooting afternoon to defeat Brown, 80-73, Saturday at Newman Arena.

Cornell coach Brian Earl was forced to alter the starting lineup for the first time all season with Williams’ absence, inserting junior guard Chris Manon.

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Cornell men explode in second half to notch comeback victory over Yale

Brian Earl addresses the media after he was hired by longtime athletic director Andy Noel as Cornell men’s basketball coach in April 2016. Nearly seven years later, Earl has rejuvenated the program, with his team delivering a dramatic win over Yale Friday on Noel’s last day on the job before retiring. (Cornell University)

ITHACA, N.Y. — With 12:06 remaining, the Cornell men faced a 68-53 deficit to Yale and seemingly had no answers on the defensive end. The Bulldogs were shooting nearly 69% from the field and were dominating the interior.

But all of a sudden, something clicked for the Big Red. Cornell finished the game on a 41-14 mega-run to defeat the defending league champions 94-82 and move into solo second in the Ivy League.

“We don’t necessarily care being down a lot,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “Yale’s a great team. They scored on us a lot, but the waves of us coming and never stopping I felt was good. Our guys hung in there.”

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Three observations about the Princeton men’s fast start to Ivy League play

2021-22 Ivy Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan is flourishing further as a senior this season, ranking in the Ivy League’s top eight in scoring, rebounding, assists, free-throw percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

For the fourth season in a row, the Princeton Tigers men’s basketball team has raced out to a 3-0 start in the Ivy League. As a result, the Tigers currently stand alone atop the conference standings.  Here are three observations about how the Tigers have managed to put themselves in the driver’s seat yet again in their quest to repeat as regular season champions:

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Princeton men sneak past Cornell to take solo Ivy League lead

Reigning Ivy Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan played a critical role in Princeton’s win at Cornell Saturday night, characteristically stuffing the stat sheet with 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

ITHACA, N.Y. — In a game between the two Ivy League men’s basketball unbeatens, something had to give. On Saturday, it gave in favor of the Princeton Tigers.

Princeton outscored Cornell 12-5 in the final four minutes to win 75-68 and take an outright league lead. Mistakes added up for Cornell as the Tigers found a way to get the Big Red out of rhythm on offense.

“[Princeton] just slowed us down, mucked it up a little bit and I don’t think we reacted well to it,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “Just some really dumb plays. Just let it get away from us a little bit — too much one-on-one.

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Three Quakeaways from Penn men’s 88-69 loss at Cornell

Penn men’s coach Steve Donahue couldn’t find a lineup that worked as Cornell pulled away with authority in the final 10 minutes of his team’s loss at Newman Arena Friday night. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Penn learned the hard way just how far Cornell and coach Brian Earl have come on Friday night, dropping an 88-69 decision to the Big Red in Ithaca, N.Y.

The Quakers were disrupted by Cornell’s uptempo offense and ultra-aggressive defense from the opening tip, even though they matched the Big Red for roughly 30 minutes.

The game flipped when Cornell delivered an emphatic counterpunch to a shot which Penn fans likely thought could have carried the team to victory. Junior guard Clark Slajchert hit a tough three from the left wing through contact to give the Quakers a 56-55 lead with 11:51 to play — and arguably should have had an opportunity for a four-point play.

No matter. On the very next possession, the Big Red’s Greg Dolan drove through the lane, hit a layup and drew a foul on Penn forward Max Martz in the process. The foul, Martz’s fourth, forced Penn coach Steve Donahue to pull the man who had been his most efficient player thus far from the game.

By the time Martz returned to the floor, it was too late. Cornell used the and-one to ignite a game-deciding 17-4 run.

As Quakers fans reflect on Friday’s contest, they’ll find themselves haunted by some ghosts from the team’s past, which are detailed below:

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Takeaways from Cornell men’s 10-3 start

After a week-long break for the holidays, Cornell men’s basketball returned home to defeat Binghamton, 86-70, to wrap up the 2022 portion of the schedule. It was a straightforward win for Cornell. Sophomore guard Nazir Williams hit eight of his 10 shots for a career-high 23 points and junior guard Chris Manon scored 16 off the bench.

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Ivy men’s hoops observations as league play approaches

With conference play in the 2022-23 Ivy League men’s basketball season fast approaching, let’s take a look back at the nonconference results for each team and examine each program – listed by season winning percentage:

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Cornell men establish themselves with win at Colgate

HAMILTON, N.Y. — Cornell men’s basketball coach Brian Earl refused to call Tuesday’s game a statement win.

But he didn’t downplay the importance of it, either.

The Big Red led for nearly 38 minutes en route to a 91-80 victory over Colgate, the two-time defending Patriot League champion an hour and a half up the road.

“It’s good to beat a program like that who has been built so much,” Earl said postgame. “We studied them a little bit and made our guys aware that there might be some open shots, but you’ve got to be unselfish and get it to the right guys, and they did that.”

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