NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The final road trip of the regular season takes the Bulldogs to New York. Yale travels to Columbia on Friday and is at Cornell on Saturday. Tipoff on both nights is set for 7 p.m. With two weekends left, the Bulldogs (11-16, 5-5 Ivy) sit in a tie with Cornell for third place in the Ivy League. Yale has placed fourth or better in league play in each of the last 12 years and is looking to finish with a winning league record for the third straight year and for the fifth time in the last seven years.
The future certainly looks bright as well. There are seven freshmen or sophomores averaging at least 13.9 minutes per game, and players who return next year have scored 1,250 of Yale's 1,804 (69.3 percent) points. Yale's depth has played a big role in the success of this year's team. In the 10 league games, the Bulldogs' bench is averaging 28.3 points. In the wins over Dartmouth (46-14), Princeton (34-10) and Brown (31-9), Yale's reserves were dominant.
Austin Morgan continues to lead the Bulldogs in scoring (11.0 ppg.) and three-pointers (35). Morgan enters the weekend third in the nation in free throw percentage (.915, 86 of 94). He had a streak of 33 straight free throws made snapped last Saturday against Harvard, which tied the longest in school history. As a team, Yale leads the Ivy League in rebounding margin (+4.3) and offensive rebounds (12.5 per game). The Bulldogs have outrebounded their opponents in each of the last seven games.
• In his last six games, Sam Martin is shooting 72.2 percent (13-of-18) from three-point range.
• Matt Townsend was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll after averaging 11 points in the two games last weekend. Against Harvard, he was 6-of-10 from the field and scored 15 points in 31 minutes.
• Javier Duren is averaging 8.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in Ivy League play. He is coming off a 15-point, three-assist performance against Harvard last Saturday.
• Justin Sears has 75 offensive rebounds, which is second in the Ivy League.
The Bulldogs have won their last three games at Levien Gym, but it's been far from easy. Last year, Yale trailed by 21 with 11:30 left in the second half before rallying for a 59-58 victory. Two years ago, the Bulldogs needed double overtime to knock off the Lions, 87-81. Yale is looking to sweep the season series from Columbia. The Bulldogs beat the Lions 75-56 at Lee Amphitheater two weeks ago. Overall Columbia leads the series 122-101.
Yale also played a close game in Ithaca last year but suffered a one-point loss, 85-84 in overtime. Austin Morgan scored 22 points, and Michael Grace added 15 for the Bulldogs. Yale's last victory at Newman Arena came in 2004. Cornell won the first meeting this year and leads the all-time series 110-103.
The Bulldogs last swept the Columbia-Cornell road trip in 2003.
YALE 75, COLUMBIA 56
Yale ran its offense to near perfection in the first meeting against Columbia. The result was a surprisingly easy victory. The Bulldogs shot 62 percent from the field and dominated on the boards, outrebounding Columbia 33-20. Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod led a balanced Yale attack with 10 points apiece. Six other players contributed at least six points: Matt Townsend and Javier Duren each had eight, Armani Cotton scored seven and Austin Morgan and Nick Victorboth had six.
CORNELL 68, YALE 61
Cornell raced out to an early 11-2 lead, withstood a Yale comeback and held on for a 68-61 victory on Feb. 15. The Bulldogs were hurt by poor foul shooting as they shot just 12-of-26 (46.2 percent) from the line. Justin Sears paced the Bulldogs with 13 points. Sam Martin added 10 points, and Austin Morgan had nine. Shonn Miller had 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocks to pace Cornell. Johnathan Gray also scored 18.
The Lions (11-13, 3-7 Ivy) are coming off a 58-41 victory over Penn last Saturday. Brian Barbour, who scored 12 points in the win over the Quakers, leads the Lions in scoring (11.5 ppg.). Steve Frankoski (10.0 ppg.) also averages double figures in scoring. Columbia leads the Ivy League in free throw percentage (.751) and is second in scoring defense (61.1 ppg.).
Cornell (13-14, 5-5 Ivy) hosts Brown on Friday. The Big Red dropped a pair of games last weekend, falling 79-71 to Penn and 72-53 to Princeton. Shonn Miller, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year, leads the team in scoring (11.5 ppg.) and rebounding (6.8 rpg.). Johnathan Gray averages 10.0 points and has a team-best 50 three-pointers.
DARTMOUTH-HARVARD WEEKEND NOTES
• Michael Grace scored 12 points in 15 minutes off the bench in the victory over Dartmouth. Grace was 4-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point range.
• The Bulldogs outrebounded the Big Green 40-26.
• Yale has now won 14 straight games against Dartmouth at Lee Amphitheater.
• Yale shot 50 percent (52-of-104) from the field and 45.2 percent (14-of-31) in the two games.
• Javier Duren and Justin Sears both averaged 10.5 points on the weekend.
• The Harvard game was televised on the CBS Sports Network. Legendary broadcaster Don Criqui handled the play-by-play.
YALE PICKED SIXTH IN PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
The Bulldogs have finished fourth or better in the Ivy League in each of the last 12 years. That didn't earn Yale much respect in the preseason Ivy League media poll, which projected a sixth-place finish for the Bulldogs. Yale, though, has a history of proving the prognosticators wrong. In five of the last seven years, the Bulldogs have finished higher than projected.
2012-13 IVY LEAGUE PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
First-Place Votes in Parentheses
Rank School............................................ Points
1. Princeton (16)..................................... 134
2. Harvard (1)......................................... 109
3. Columbia.............................................. 90
4. Cornell................................................. 80
5. Penn.................................................... 74
6. Yale...................................................... 55
7. Brown.................................................. 50
8. Dartmouth........................................... 20
MEET THE NEWCOMERS
The 2012-13 Yale roster features four freshmen. Khaliq Bedart-Ghani (Inglewood, CA), Jack Montague (Brentwood, TN), Justin Sears (Plainfield, NJ) andNick Victor (Dallas, TX) all bring strong credentials. Bedart-Ghani led Loyola High School in California in rebounding and blocks as a senior last winter. Montague was the district, region and county most valuable player as a senior at Brentwood High School. He averaged 17.0 points and seven assists and scored more than 1,200 career points. Sears earned first team all-state, all-area and all-county honors as a senior at Plainfield High School in New Jersey. He scored 1,048 points and grabbed 1,063 rebounds in his career to become only the second player in school history to score over 1,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds. He helped lead Plainfield to two New Jersey Tournament of Champion title games where it lost to national power St. Anthony's both times. Victor spent one year at the Winchendon School and earned NEPSAC honorable mention recognition. At Lovejoy High School in Dallas, Texas, he was the 2010 District most valuable player.
2012-13 SCHEDULE NOTES
• The Bulldogs didn't play their first home game until Saturday, Nov. 24 against Army. That was the first of 12 games in the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
• Yale played in the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The first game was at Saint Joseph, the Atlantic 10 preseason favorite. The Bulldogs then headed to Evansville, Ind., for three games, against Evansville, Buffalo and Western Illinois.
• Yale faced a very challenging three-game road trip right after Christmas. The Bulldogs travelled to Nevada, Saint Mary's and Iowa State. The trip to Nevada was a homecoming for Reno native Austin Morgan, Jeremiah Kreisberg hails from Berkeley, Calif., a short distance from the Saint. Mary's campus while the trip to Iowa State was a homecoming for Ames, Iowa, native Jesse Pritchard.
• The biggest test of the season, though, came in Lee Amphitheater when preseason No. 10 Florida visited on Jan. 6. The Gators return three starters from a squad that went 26-11 and fell one game shy of the Final Four last year.
• The Florida game was one of two in the Amphitheater that will be nationally televised. The NBC Sports Network was in town for the game with the Gators, while CBS Sports Television showed the home game with Harvard on Feb. 23.
• Yale kicked off Ivy League play on Jan. 19 at Brown. Five of the first six Ivy games were on the road.