Cornell men notch victory over St. Francis (Pa.) as the Big Red offense keeps moving

ITHACA, N.Y. — Freshman guard Nazir Williams scored 21 points off efficient 7-for-10 shooting to pace Cornell on Wednesday as the Big Red took down Saint Francis (Pa.), 93-80.

Cornell (5-1) fell behind 4-2 in the opening minutes, but a 9-0 run put the hosts ahead 11-4 over Saint Francis (1-3).

The Big Red would never trail again.

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Cornell men fade late, bow to Penn State, 85-74

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Cornell men’s basketball led by 10 points in the first half, but a 19-5 Penn State run in the final seven minutes shot down Big Red’s upset attempt as the Nittany Lions held on at the Bryce Jordan Center, 85-74.

“[Penn State] had a pretty good game plan against us,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “We’re still learning how to play like this, and they sort of retreated well and got into some of our cutting lanes and passing lanes.”

Cornell (4-1) fell behind 14-6 in the opening seven minutes to Penn State (3-1) after a three-pointer by fifth-year senior guard Jaheam Cornwall, but a 21-3 Big Red run vaulted the visitors ahead, 27-17.

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Takeaways from the Cornell men’s solid 2-0 start

Just one Ivy League men’s basketball team remains undefeated through a week of action, and it isn’t either conference favorite in Harvard or Yale. Instead, it’s the Cornell Big Red, searching for their first 3-0 start in 25 seasons on Tuesday against Colgate at Newman Arena.

Cornell doesn’t have the star power its opponents have, but the team has shown its depth through season-opening wins at Binghamton and Lafayette. The team has also shown resiliency, coming up with big stops and timely shot-making in 76-69 and 90-85 victories over the Bearcats and Leopards, respectively.

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Cornell men’s basketball looking to resume upward trajectory under Brian Earl

In Brian Earl’s first three seasons on East Hill, the Cornell men’s basketball team improved from eight to 15 wins, clinching a birth in the 2019 CIT to conclude Matt Morgan’s collegiate career. The Big Red took an expected step back in 2019-20, winning just seven games but setting themselves up for a strong 2020-21 with Jimmy Boeheim and Terrance McBride leading the way.

But, of course, that never happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Boeheim now plays for his father, Jim Boeheim, at Syracuse, while McBride now plays for the Rice Owls, tabbed eighth in Conference USA.

Headed into the 2021-22 season, the Big Red are without their star power from two years ago but are hoping to develop under a group of returners.

“We took some lumps [in 2019-20] to have a team last year we thought would’ve been really competitive,” Earl said. “Once we knew those guys were going to move on, I think our team did a really good job of coming together – the younger guys realizing that we’re turning the page.”

While Boeheim and McBride are gone, Cornell has a core of players from two years ago to lead the team in a season filled with unknowns.

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Ivy League player carousel

The biggest story of the off-season was Miye Oni being selected in June’s NBA Draft.  The Yale junior and reigning Ivy Player of the Year decided to leave school early and leave his name in the draft.  Despite falling to the late second round, a perilous spot to making an NBA roster, Oni impressed in the Summer League and earned a guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz.  He is playing just as well in the pre-season and looks to be a real steal for the Jazz.

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Cornell men’s basketball releases 2019-20 schedule

Featuring 18 contests against teams ranked in the top 150 and highlighted by trips to the Carrier Dome and the Bryce Jordan Center, the Cornell men’s basketball teams released its 2019-20 schedule on Thursday.  The Big Red will attempt to develop their young squad over a 13-game nonconference schedule to again exceed expectations and return to the Ivy League Tournament after a one-year absence.

Following early games with Binghamton and Bryant, Cornell welcomes NJIT to Newman Arena on November 13.  Last season, the Big Red defeated the Highlanders by six in Newark and look to make it two-in-a-row over the ASUN’s second best team.  Three days later, the Red head to the midwest to take on DePaul of the Big East.  This game would have had more intrigue had Bill Courtney remained on the Blue Demons’ staff, but the former Cornell head coach (2010-2016) left for Miami in June.

On November 20, Cornell heads up I-81 for its yearly trip to Syracuse.  This year’s game will be third meeting between junior Jimmy Boeheim and his Hall of Fame father Jim, as well as the 125th overall between the nearby schools.  Last year’s 63-55 loss was the 39th in a row, but the closest game against the Orange since 2005.

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