Yale men hold off Harvard to sweep season series again

Junior forward Matt Knowling led all scorers with 18 points on 9-for-13 shooting in 35 minutes in Yale’s win over Harvard Friday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Yale men’s basketball picked up where its scorching hot hands left off last Saturday against Princeton, building a 19-point second-half lead and surviving a late comeback rush from Harvard to notch a 68-57 win at Lavietes Pavilion.

Harvard (12-10, 3-5 Ivy) had trailed 48-29 with 16:25 remaining but in the next 14 minutes of game seized enough momentum to trail by just five points, 62-57. Yale salted away the game from the free-throw line in the final minute after a defensive clampdown.

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Ivy men’s week five roundup: Ancient Eight’s Top 10

After another exciting weekend of Ivy hoops that saw all the home teams holding serve, the league standings have a tie at the top, and seven teams are separated by only two games. 

Yale continued its dominance of Princeton, winning for the eighth time in their last nine matchups.  Meanwhile, Penn, losers of three straight league contests, won its third straight over Harvard in a must-win game at the Palestra. 

Cornell, missing Nazir Williams, took care of Brown, which was without Kalu Anya, Dan Friday and Malachi Ndur.  Dartmouth continued its strong league play with a victory over Columbia, its third league win it its last four contests and finds itself over .500 at the halfway point for the first time since 2009.

Saturday results
Yale over Princeton, 87-65
Penn over Harvard, 83-68
Cornell over Brown, 80-73
Dartmouth over Columbia, 83-73

Cornell 5-2 (15-5, overall)
Princeton 5-2 (14-6)
Yale 4-3 (14-6)
Dartmouth 4-3 (8-13)
Harvard 3-4 (12-9)
Brown 3-4 (10-10)
Penn 3-4 (11-11)
Columbia 1-6 (6-16)

The second half of the schedule starts with a big back-to-back weekend, highlighted by a matchup between the league leaders at Jadwin Gymnasium and Yale looking for revenge against Dartmouth at Leede Arena.

Fri., Feb. 3
Yale at Harvard, 5:00 p.m.
Brown at Dartmouth, 6:00 p.m.
Columbia at Penn, 7:00 p.m.
Cornell at Princeton, 7:00 p.m.

Sat., Feb. 4
Yale at Dartmouth, 6:00 p.m.
Brown at Harvard, 6:00 p.m.
Columbia at Princeton, 6:00 p.m.
Cornell at Penn, 6:00 p.m.

Below are 10 of the top performances from the weekend: – 

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Yale men pull away with hot hands in 87-65 win over Princeton

Junior forward Matt Knowling delivered 12 points on 6-for-10 field-goal shooting, nine rebounds and two steals in Yale’s 87-65 win over Princeton at the John J. Lee Amphitheater Saturday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Editor’s note: Ivy Hoops Online writers George “Toothless Tiger” Clark and Richard Kent deliver audio and written recaps, respectively, of Yale’s stunning second-half offensive outburst that secured a win over Princeton:   

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Yale men boosted by stellar on-ball defense from Mbeng

Yale coach James Jones called sophomore guard Bez Mbeng the best on-ball defender he’s ever coached. Mbeng played a critical role in Yale’s 70-63 win over Penn Saturday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

A few things had to go well for Yale to beat Penn last night at John J. Lee Amphitheater and keep its Ivy League title hopes alive.

They did.

Sophomore guard Bez Mbeng played lockdown defense on Penn’s dynamic Jordan Dingle in the second half, holding him to nine points after intermission en route to Yale’s 70-63 win over Penn.

”I love guarding the best player on the other team,” Mbeng said.

”Bez is the best on-ball defender I’ve ever coached,” Yale coach James Jones said, offering high praise in his 24th year at the Bulldogs’ helm after coaching other standout defenders like Trey Phills and Jalen Gabbidon. “He did a fantastic job in the second half on the league’s best offensive player and one of the best in the nation.”

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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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Yale men outlast Fairfield, 77-64

Remember Yale’s romp over Vermont last month?

Yale was down at the half by 30-27 and blitzed Vermont 46-14 in the second half. The Elis played a similar game against Fairfield at the Leo D. Mahoney Arena last night, winning 77-64 after being down 29-24 at intermission.

In a game marred by 41 foul calls and 55 free throws, Yale shot 62% in the second half in an eventually dominant win.

Fairfield (4-7) opened up a 14-5 lead, and it looked like the Bulldogs were still jet-lagged from their long trip back from Lexington, Ky. after a loss to the Wildcats, which included a three-hour layover in Raleigh, N.C.

”We got off to another slow start and we didn’t react well to it,” coach James Jones said. “[In] the second half, we got to play more Yale basketball.”

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Yale men outlasted by No. 16 Kentucky, 69-59

Yale senior forward EJ Jarvis (15) notched 12 points on 6-for-12 shooting and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes against a physical No. 16 Kentucky squad at Rupp Arena Saturday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

John Calipari had a halftime message for his Kentucky Wildcats against Yale Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena.

With his ‘Cats clinging to only a six-point lead, Calipari told them in no uncertain terms to get the ball inside to reigning Associated Press National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe.

They did.

Tshiebwe answered with 22 second-half points to lead No. 16 Kentucky to a 69-59 home win before a crowd of 20,264 over pesky Yale. The Bulldogs actually held a 35-33 lead with 17:26 left before Tshiebwe took over underneath. He finished with a season-high 28 points and added 12 rebounds.

Yale (8-3) played without its leading scorer Matt Knowling, who was out with a bicep injury.

The score was knotted at 6-6 early. Kentucky went on a 9-0 run consisting of three treys to grab a 25-13 lead. Yale then went on a tear highlighted by a Jack Molloy triple to cut the Wildcat advantage to 28-25. Kentucky (7-2) led by 33-27 at the half. Yale shot 40% in the first half and only trailed the physical hosts 20-18 in rebounds. Senior forward EJ Jarvis posted eight first-half points.

Yale rung up the first eight points of the second half, culminating in a John Poulakidas two from close range.

Calipari then shifted to a full-court press, and Kentucky finally succeeded in getting the ball inside to Tshiebwe. The Democratic Republic of the Congo native scored 12 straight points to give Kentucky a 53-47 lead which it never relinquished.

Yale received a far more even whistle than it did at Colorado or Butler, getting whistled for 13 fouls to 14 for Kentucky.

Yale coach James Jones called the outing ”a great effort by the team.”

Calipari called Yale a NCAA Tournament team.

”Harvard and Yale are going to be battling,” Calipari said. “They’re both really good teams.”

Molloy finished the game with a career-high 14 points, and Jarvis registered 12 points and seven rebounds.

Kentucky finished the game with a narrow 31-30 rebounding edge. Yale shot 43% for the game.

This was the second all-time meeting between Yale and Kentucky. The Wildcats beat Yale 79-58 in 1961, a year in which Yale won the Ivy League at 13-1 and received an NCAA bid.

Yale was supposed to play Gonzaga instead of Kentucky, but Zags coach Mark Few ran into a scheduling conflict because of a Gonzaga game against Kentucky and assisted in getting Yale a game at the latter.

It was the third of six straight road games for Yale. The Elis do not have a home game in December. They play at Fairfield in the brand new Leo D. Mahoney Arena on Monday night.

Yale men can’t dig out of Hinkle hole in 71-61 loss at Butler

You can’t spot a power conference team a 22-7 lead on the road before 7,042 screaming fans and expect a good outcome. Yale didn’t get one Tuesday night at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, where Butler defeated Yale, 71-61.

Yale (8-2) did fight back and cut the Butler lead to eight at the 3:24 mark of the second half. But sharpshooter Simas Lukosius hit two dagger threes in the last minute to preserve the victory for Butler (7-3).

“It was a hard-fought game. Our guys didn’t go away,” coach James Jones said. “Those first 10 minutes we did a poor job of taking care of the ball.”

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Yale men suffer first loss of season at Colorado, 65-62

Colorado beat KenPom No. 3 Tennessee and Associated Press No. 24 Texas A&M earlier this month by a combined 40 points.

But it took the Buffaloes – including Yale graduate transfer and defensive stalwart Jalen Gabbidon – all they could muster to hold off Yale Sunday in Boulder.

The Bulldogs fell, 65-62, to Colorado, their first loss of the season.

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Yale men deliver second-half performance to remember in 73-44 rout of Vermont

It had been 77 years since Yale men’s basketball last started a season 6-0.

Until Tuesday night.

Yale defeated Vermont 73-44, performing a 46-14 demolition of the Catamounts in the second half at John J. Lee Amphitheater to improve to 6-0 and move forward as the Ivy League’s only undefeated team.

The Bulldogs were down 30-27 at the half. They came out in the second stanza with a renewed intensity on both ends.

”I have a really good staff. Everyone made good suggestions (at halftime),” coach James Jones said. “We cut off the post.”

Yale sank seven of 11 field goals to start the second half on a 20-5 run, building a 47-35 lead with 11:58 remaining. Vermont answered with a three, but Yale topped that with seven straight subsequent points to lead 54-38 with 10:32 left.

Yale shot 61.3% in the second half while holding Vermont to a paltry 21.7%.

Junior forward Matt Knowling once again led Yale with 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting. Sophomore guard John Poulakidas and senior forward EJ Jarvis each pitched in 10 points.

Vermont fell to an uncharacteristic 1-5.

Quincy Jones, son of James Jones, hit a half-court shot to win a TV during a game timeout.

Yale’s KenPom ranking is No. 105 after the win. Princeton is the closest Ivy to Yale at No. 136.

The Bulldogs’ next action comes at Colorado on Sunday. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Jalen Gabbidon, who captained Yale last season and now starts for the Buffaloes.