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Game #10: Cornell at Vanderbilt
Tip off: Monday, Dec. 17, at 8 p.m. CT
Site: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316), Nashville, Tenn.
2012-13 Records: Cornell (4-5, 0-0 Ivy); Vanderbilt (3-4*, 0-0 SEC)
Series Record: Vanderbilt leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Vanderbilt won 95-79 (Dec. 29, 1987 in Nashville, Tenn.)
Game #11: Cornell at Duke
Tip off: Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m.
Site: Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314), Durham, N.C.
2012-13 Records: Cornell (4-5*, 0-0 Ivy); Duke (9-0, 0-0 ACC)
Series Record: Duke leads 4-0
Last Meeting: Duke won 81-67 (Jan. 6, 2008 in Durham, N.C.)
Radio: HITS 103.3 FM (Barry Leonard)
TV: ESPNU (both games)
Live Stats: available at www.CornellBigRed.com
Live Video: available at www.CornellBigRed.com
Tickets: check availability by calling (607) 254-BEAR
HEAD COACH BILL COURTNEY
Cornell head coach Bill Courtney is in his third season at Cornell (26-39, .400; 13-15 Ivy, .464) ... Courtney became the fifth Robert E. Gallagher '44 Coach of Men's Basketball at Cornell on April 23, 2010.
STORY LINES: The Cornell men's basketball team returns from exam break to face a pair of stiff challenges in front of national television audiences when it visits Vanderbilt and No. 2 Duke. The Big Red will battle the Commodores on Monday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. CT, when heads to Durham, N.C. to face the nationally-ranked Blue Devils on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. Both games will be televised by ESPNU.
After a 16-day break for final exams, preparations have begun in earnest for Cornell's chase for a fourth Ivy League title in the last six years. Two weeks of practice without a game have allowed head coach Bill Courtney to help the Big Red return to its preseason identity after the team started out 1-4. A wide open Ivy race begins in January, but Cornell still has eight non-conference games remaining to work out the kinks. Two of its toughest remaining challenges await after the long exam break.
At 4-5, Cornell may have turned a corner, winning three of its previous four games prior to the break. Included was a championship of the 2012 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational Upper Division and a victory over Central New York rival Colgate. The Big Red offense has come alive over its last three wins, averaging 81.0 points while shooting .497 from the floor with six players averaging between 8.7 and 14.7 points per game. Cornell's defense has been playing at a high level over the team's first nine games, ranking among the national leaders in defending against the 3-point shot (.302, 6.1 per game) while surrendering just 67.1 points per outing.
Cornell has just one player averaging double figures, though seven players are averaging 5.7 ppg. or better. With its top three scorers freshmen or sophomores, the Big Red has gone through some understandable growing pains on the offensive end, but players like reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Shonn Miller (10.0 ppg., 7.4 rpg., 2.1 spg., 1.9 bpg.), sophomore classmates Galal Cancer (5.7 ppg., 2.8 rpg., 2.6 apg.) and Devin Cherry (8.2 ppg., 2.7 rpg.) and freshman Nolan Cressler (9.0 ppg., 3.6 rpg.) join seniors Errick Peck (7.4 ppg., 4.8 rpg.), Johnathan Gray (7.3 ppg., 2.7 rpg.) and Eitan Chemerinski (7.9 ppg., 3.7 rpg.) in forming a solid nucleus.
A WIN OVER VANDERBILT WOULD:
• make the Big Red to 5-5 on the season.
• give Cornell its first win over Vanderbilt in program history.
• improve Cornell's record to 4-9 all-time vs. Southeastern Conference opponents.
• be the 1,201st in program history (1,200-1,313 in 114 seasons).
ABOUT VANDERBILT: The Commodores brought a 3-4 overall record into a home game with Alabama A&M on Saturday. Dec. 15. The Commodores were coming off a 66-64 overtime win at Xavier, a game that featured a furious second half comeback for Vanderbilt behind 25 points from Kyle Fuller, including all 11 of his team's points in the extra session. Kedren Johnson leads the team in scoring (17.0 ppg.), steals (2.0 spg.) and blocks (0.7 bpg.), while Fuller is also averaging double figures (13.3 ppg.). Opponents are shooting nearly 44 percent from the field against a Vanderbilt team that lost its top six players from last season's SEC tournament championship team. With only two returning upperclassmen on the roster, head coach Kevin Stallings is rebuilding with a roster that includes six sophomores and five freshmen.
THE CORNELL-VANDERBILT SERIES: The Commodores have won the only two previous meetings between the programs dating back to the first meeting during the 1971-72 season, a 101-80 Vanderbilt win. The two teams last met on Dec. 29, 1987 in the finals of the Music City Classic. The Commodores won that meeting, 95-79.
CORNELL VS. THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE: Cornell is 3-9 all-time against current members of the Southeastern Conference, including 0-2 against Vanderbilt. The Big Red has also faced Alabama (1-1), Arkansas (1-0), Georgia (0-1), Kentucky (1-1), Louisiana State (0-3) and South Carolina (0-1). Cornell has never squared off with Auburn, Florida, Mississippi, Mississippi State or Tennessee. The last win over an SEC team by the Big Red came in the 2009-10 season opener, a 71-67 win at Alabama. That season saw the Big Red open the season with a win over an SEC team and closed with a loss to top-seeded Kentucky in the NCAA Sweet 16.
ABOUT DUKE: Duke brings a perfect 9-0 record into its matchup with the Big Red and is coming off an 11-day break for finals since its 90-67 demolition of Temple. Included were wins over top five squads Ohio State, Louisville and Kentucky, as well as VCU, Minnesota and the Owls. The Blue Devils have relied on six players, all of whom average more than 21 minutes per game. Five average double figures in scoring, with All-America candidates Mason Plumlee (19.2 ppg., 11.3 rpg.) and Seth Curry (16.1 ppg.) leading the way. The Blue Devils are shooting a healthy 48 percent from the floor and 40 percent from beyond the arc while limiting opponents to 38 percent overall and 31 percent from beyond the arc. Eighth-time national coach of the Year Mike Krzyzewski has led the Blue Devils to four national titles and 11 Final Four appearances in his 31 seasons on the sidelines.
THE CORNELL-DUKE SERIES: Cornell and Duke will be meeting for the fifth time in program history, with the Blue Devils winning all four previous meetings. Duke has won the four games by an average of 28.3 points per game, though the Big Red gave the Blue Devils a run for their money the last time they met, an 81-67 Duke victory on Jan. 6, 2008. That would be Cornell's last loss that season until the NCAA tournament, as the Big Red ripped off 16 straight victories en route to its first Ivy League title in 20 years.
CORNELL VS. THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE: The Big Red is 1-24 against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, including 0-4 against Duke. The Big Red has faced Boston College (0-3), Clemson (0-2), Georgia Tech (0-3), Maryland (0-2), Miami (FL) (0-1), North Carolina (0-3), North Carolina State (0-5) and Wake Forest (1-1). Cornell has never faced Florida State, Virginia or Virginia Tech. This game is the only scheduled meeting between the Big Red and an ACC team this year. The lone win over Wake Forest came during the 1951-52 season, a 58-51 victory on the road. Since then, the Big Red has lost 24 consecutive games to current members of the ACC by an average margin of 23.8 points per game. Only five of those 24 games have been decided by single digits.
• Cornell is 97-60 (.618) in the last five seasons.
• The Big Red is 51-19 (.729) in its last 70 Ivy League contests over the last six years.
• Cornell is 58-15 (.795) over its last 72 home games, including 53-14 (.791) in the last six years.
• In non-conference games, the Big Red is 46-41 (.529) over the last five seasons.
TALL IVY: Dating back to the 2004-05 season (nine years), Cornell's 76-36 record is the best among Ivy League teams in conference action. Penn is second at 75-37, followed by Princeton and Yale, each tied at 62-50. Rounding out the field is Harvard (50-52), Columbia (43-69), Brown (42-70) and Dartmouth (28-84). Going back to the 2006-07 campaign, the Big Red is a full 10 games better than anyone else in the league with its 60-24 mark. Penn is second (50-34), followed by Yale and Harvard (48-36), Princeton (46-38), Columbia (36-48), Brown (31-53) and Dartmouth (17-67).
• Cornell's bench has outscored the opposing bench in each of the team's nine games this year.
• Opponents have been under 30 percent shooting from 3-point range in six of Cornell's nine games this season.
• Eight different players have reached double figures in scoring at least once in the team's first eight games.
• Over the last two seasons, Big Red non-conference opponents have hit just 127 3-pointers in 23 games (5.5 per game) on .282 shooting (127-of-451). Only three times in 22 games has a team shot better than 33 percent from beyond the arc. That trend continued so far this season, as Cornell opponents have made just 55 3-pointers (6.1 per game) on .302 shooting (55-of-182).
• Cornell's 34-point margin of victory in the 89-55 victory over Presbyterian was the largest in a game under head coach Bill Courtney and the largest by a Big Red team since topping Harvard 86-50 on Jan. 30, 2010.
• The Big Red dropped a 23-point contest to Stony Brook on Nov. 28, its largest margin of defeat for the Big Red at home in three seasons under head coach Bill Courtney. Its previous biggest loss was a 13-point defeat to Harvard (73-60) in 2011.
• The Big Red's .569 field goal percentage in the win over Presbyterian is the second-highest under head coach Bill Courtney, behind only a torrid .638 against Wofford (30-of-47) on Dec. 30, 2010.
• Cornell's 3-point season totals in the last five years represent the top five single-season marks in school history. The Big Red's 217 3-pointers a year ago ranks fifth on the chart. Prior to 2007-08, when the run began, Cornell had made more than 200 treys in a season just once.
• Cornell is 3-1 since moving Josh Figini and Nolan Cressler into the starting lineup four games ago.
• Over his last four games, sophomore Shonn Miller is averaging 11.8points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks while shooting 52 percent from the field (15-of-29), 43 percent from 3-point range (3-of-7) and 82 percent from the free-throw line (14-of-17).
• Miller has three or more steals in five games this year and has blocked two or more shots in four contests.
• In Cornell's four wins this season, senior Errick Peck has averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the floor. In its five losses, Peck is averaging 5.0 points and 3.8 assists while shooting 33 percent from the field.
• Freshman Nolan Cressler has made 17 3-pointers in nine games this season. He has hit multiple 3-pointers in six contests (17-of-32, .531) and has been shut out in three others (0-for-11, .000).
• With his 9-of-12 shooting effort against Longwood, senior Eitan Chemerinski jumped into first place on the school's career field goal percentage list. He surpassed the 100 field goals needed to join the list and is now at .617, ahead of all-time leader John McCord (.583).
• In his last four contests, Chemerinski is averaging 13.0 points on 20-of-28 shooting (.714).
• After turning the ball over eight times in the season's first three games, Chemerinski has just four turnovers in the last six games spanning 126 minutes of game action. He has missed just 12 of his 36 shots during that same span (67 percent).
• In the last eight games, sophomore Devin Cherry has posted 74 points (9.3 ppg.) after scoring a total of 40 points in the 2011-12 campaign, spanning 22 games played.
• Senior Miles Asafo-Adjei is averaging 6.0 points and 4.0 assists with a 2.7:1 assist-turnover ratio in the last two games, making 67 percent of his shots from the floor (6-of-9).
• After opening the year 2-of-20 from 3-point range in the first five games, senior Johnathan Gray then went 12-of-19 over the next four games (.632) before missing his final seven shots from beyond the arc against Colgate.
• Gray is averaging 11.5 points over his last four games after posting just 4.0 ppg. over the first five.
• Senior Johnathan Gray was a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands national team this summer, competing in the 2012 FIBA Centrobasket Championship from June 18-24 in Puerto Rico. He averaged 8.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists while hitting 10-of-21 3-pointers (.476) from the international 3-point line to rank fourth on the team in scoring. The Virgin Islands team went 1-3 with a win over Costa Rica (92-64) behind Gray's 12 points and five assists.
• Gray is a former walk-on who served as team manager during the 2009-10 Sweet 16 season until midseason, when he joined the varsity roster during Christmas break.
• Junior forward Dwight Tarwater's brother, Davis, earned a gold medal in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, England. Dwight was there to see his brother, a three-time NCAA champion and 13-time All-American swimmer at Michigan. At the Olympics, Tarwater swam the third leg of the preliminary round of the 4x200. His time of 1:46.33 was a personal best, and the second fastest leg for Team USA, which turned in the fastest preliminary swim. His leg was the third fastest among all 64 swimmers in the prelims.
• Freshman center Braxston Bunce earned his second straight appearance on Team Canada's Under-18 national team this past summer, competing at the 2012 FIBA Americas Championship from June 16-20 in Brazil. Canada went 4-1, with Bunce averaging 1.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in two contests,
• Men's basketball was one of 11 Cornell teams honored by the NCAA in its annual Division I Academic Progress Report (APR). The APR measures semester-by-semester records for every individual team in Division I with regard to each team members' continuing eligibility, retention and progress toward graduation. The NCAA “commends” teams that have APR scores in the top 10 percent within their sport, with the minimum necessary score ranging from 975 to a perfect mark of 1000 depending on the range of team scores within that sport.
• As a team, Cornell sports a 3.2 cumulative grade point average.
• Senior Eitan Chemerinski (Applied Economics and Management) has been a member of the 400 Club, joining an exclusive group of Cornell student-athletes to post a grade point average of 4.0 or better.
• Junior guard Jamal Cherry traveled to Ghana, West Africa this past summer to work at the country's main power generator and supplier of electricity, the Volta River Authority (VRA). As a VRA intern, he was exposed to various processes of renewable energy and worked on using biogas as a sustainable energy source that turns solid waste into energy. During his time in Ghana, Cherry conducted free basketball clinics for the local youth at the VRA's Community Center in Akuse, a small town that is the site of one of the VRA's hydroelectric dams.
• Chemerinski solved the Rubik's Cube in 2 minutes and 43 seconds during a road trip in 2009-10, a video that went viral on YouTube. Chemerinski speaks five languages, including Mandarin.
• Cornell has had four Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in the last 10 years, including a first-teamer in Graham Dow '07, who was a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
• Recent Cornell graduates have attended Harvard Law (Lenny Collins '06), Cornell medical school (Ugo Ihekweazu '07), Georgetown medical school (David Lisle '06) and Stanford graduate school (Graham Dow '07, biology).
• Cornell has been represented on the five member All-Ivy first team four times in the last five years, with three of those years placing multiple players on the first team.
• The Big Red has had four Ivy League Rookie of the Year selections in the last 10 years, including Shonn Miller in 2011-12.
• Over the last three seasons, Cornell has graduated three of the school's top 13 scorers, the top two assist-makers all-time, two Ivy League Players of the Year, two Associated Press honorable mention All-Americans, an Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, a Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American, three Academic All-Ivy picks and six players who competed in more than 100 career games.
NEXT UP: The Big Red closes out competition prior to Christmas when it visits Boston University on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 1 p.m.