Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Around the Rim with Brian Delaney and The Ithaca Journal

Cornell's Adam Gore dribbles the ball past Columbia's Brett Loscalzo on Jan. 19 at Newman Arena in Ithaca. Gore scored a season-high 17 points in Saturday's 72-54 win and has thrived at Columbia's Levien Gym.
By Brian Delaney
The Ithaca Journal
January 29, 2008

NEW YORK — The last time Adam Gore stepped on the Levien Gym floor, he torched Columbia for 28 points in Cornell's inspired 81-59 victory.

That was an emotional performance by the Big Red, because only four days earlier, then-sophomore Khaliq Gant suffered a serious neck injury and lay recovering in an Arnot Ogden Hospital bed.

The 28 points was a career-high for Gore, who went on to win the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. On Saturday night, playing at Levien for the first time since that 28-point effort, Gore, a junior who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2006-07 opener against Northwestern, was determined to rediscover his old scoring mentality. He did just that, scoring 14 of his game- and season-high 17 points in a first half in which Cornell opened up an insurmountable 18-point lead in a 72-54 win.

Gore's previous season high was 12 points, coming on four different occasions. But at times this year, Gore has played passively on the offense end, which led the Cornell coaching staff to prepare a special film that showed various clips from his stellar performance against Columbia two years ago.

It was a motivational trigger that clearly worked.

“I don't know if it was necessarily the clip as it was what (coach Steve Donahue) was saying,” said Gore, who played 33 minutes Saturday. “Early in the year we had so many guys score that I think I got away from what I was doing my freshman year ... just begin aggressive, knowing that I didn't have to score a ton of points, but ... that I had to be aggressive; let the defense recognize that I can (score) and I think I got away from that a little bit.”

Gore scored the first time he touched the ball Saturday night, driving to his left and knocking down a pull-up. It only got better from there for the 6-foot junior, who proceeded to knock down four free throws and three more field goals, including a clutch 3 late in the first half that helped shut down a mini-Columbia run.

“I thought he was real aggressive from the start,” Donahue said. “We told him, ‘You've got to be a sniper. You can't let teams off the hook.'”

Up next: Huge weekend

Cornell continues Ivy playwith games on Friday at Brown and Saturday at Yale. Along with Cornell, those teams are considered to be the top three contenders for the Ancient Eight title.

Brown and Yale, travel partners, completed their season series on Saturday in Providence, R.I. Brown (9-7, 1-1) earned a split with a 77-68 win, led by Chris Skrelja's 16 points and 15 rebounds, and Damon Huffman's 23 points. The Bears hit 22 of 26 free throws in the second half to ensure the win.

There's little question that this will be the toughest road trip of the league schedule for the Big Red, as part of a 5-of-7 stretch of games away from Newman Arena. With a split, Cornell would leave itself in excellent position for the remaining 10 games, six of which are atNewman.

By the numbers

* Princeton ended a 12-game losing streak Sunday with a 60-46 victory over Division II Dominican.

* After the weekend's games, only two Ivy League men's teams have records of .500 or better on the road - Cornell (4-3) and Brown (5-5). The rest of the league is 8-41 away from their home venues.

* Cornell now has two players shooting 90 percent or better from the foul line: point guard Louis Dale (.940, 47-50), and off-guard Gore (.905, 38-42). Dale has made 31 consecutive free throws.

* Starting with the second half of the Syracuse game on Dec. 22, Cornell has held opponents to just 38 percent shooting while knocking down its own shots at a 48 percent clip.

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