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Game #16: Columbia at Cornell
Tip off: Saturday, Jan. 25, at 12 p.m.
Site: Newman Arena (4,473), Ithaca, N.Y.
2013-14 Records: Columbia (12-6, 1-0 Ivy); Cornell (1-14, 0-1 Ivy)
Series Record: Columbia leads 123-98
Last Meeting: Columbia won 71-61, Jan. 18, 2014 in New York, N.Y.
Radio: HITS 103.3 FM (Barry Leonard, Eric Taylor)
Live Stats: available at www.CornellBigRed.com
Live Video: available at www.CornellBigRed.com
Tickets: available by calling (607) 254-BEAR
HEAD COACH BILL COURTNEY
Cornell head coach Bill Courtney is in his fourth season at Cornell (36-66, .353; 18-25 Ivy, .419) ... 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 will look to even its Ivy League record and pick up its second straight home win when Columbia visits on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 12 p.m. at Newman Arena. The game can be viewed live on the Ivy League Digital Network, or you can listen to Barry Leonard's radio call on HITS 103.3 FM. The contest will be a part of a doubleheader, with the women facing the Lions at 2:30 p.m.
Cornell has played some good basketball despite its 1-14 start, with two of the losses coming to 2013 NCAA Final Four squads (Syracuse, Louisville) and six total coming at the hands of 2013 postseason squads (Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame - NCAA, Stony Brook - NIT, Loyola - CIT, Western Michigan - CBI) that went a combined 161-58 a year ago. Cornell has shown glimpses of really good play despite its heavy reliance on underclassmen and inexperienced upperclassmen. Three of the team's top five scorers are freshmen or sophomores and the three top upperclassmen had made a combined 23 career starts entering the year. The Big Red led then-No. 8/7 Syracuse by 14 points in the first half and by six at the break, led a Loyola (MD) team that won 23 games a year ago by seven points with five minutes remaining and had a 19-point advantage against Binghamton with 13 minutes left and a 10-point lead with four minutes to play against Siena and led Western Michigan in the second half. Cornell went on to drop all five games.
The Big Red backcourt has been its strength, with its three starting guards all averaging double figures. Sophomore guard Nolan Cressler is off to a great start for the Big Red, averaging 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds and freshman guard Robert Hatter is at 10.0 ppg., while chipping in 2.3 assists and 1.8 rebounds. Playmaking junior Devin Cherry rounds out the trio at 10.9 ppg. to go along with 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Senior forward Dwight Tarwater has been a double-double threat, posting 6.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per night and pacing the team and ranking among the Ivy League leaders in offensive rebounds (2.4 per game). Freshman Robert Onuorah (3.3 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 0.6 bpg.) and junior Deion Giddens (4.2 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 0.8 bpg.) are holding down the middle, while senior guard Dominick Scelfo (3.3 ppg., 1.1 apg.) and freshman guard Darryl Smith (4.6 ppg., 2.1 rpg.) are providing firepower off the bench. The Big Red is scoring 65.9 points on 42 percent shooting and has a near-neutral assist:turnover ratio (180:185). Much of Cornell's troubles have come on the defensive end, where the team is allowing 80.5 points on 48 percent shooting, including 41 percent from 3-point range. It has been much better over its last four games, surrendering 68.5 points on 44 percent shooting and 34 percent from 3-point range.
Cornell will be tested early against a strong and confident Columbia team that brings a 12-6 non-conference record into the back end of the home-and-home set. The Lions have won five straight and seven of eight heading into the weekend under fourth year head coach Kyle Smith. Alex Rosenberg (13.9 ppg., 3.6 rpg.), Maodo Lo (13.8 ppg., 4.2 rpg.) and Grant Mullins (13.3 ppg., 3.2 rpg., 2.5 apg.) are all averaging double figures to a Columbia team that is shooting 45 percent from the floor overall and 41 percent from the 3-point arc. Do-everything guard Isaac Cohen paced the team in rebounding (5.9 rpg.) and assists (2.8 apg.). Columbia has won five of the last seven meetings between the teams, though the squads have split the home-and-home series in each of the last two seasons.
The two teams met exactly a week ago in New York City, with the Lions pulling out a 71-61 victory. Devin Cherry had 16 points and Darryl Smith had 12 points and five rebounds, but Columbia's Alex Rosenberg scored 20 and the home team made 26-of-31 free throws to pull out the victory.
A WIN OVER COLUMBIA WOULD:
• win its second straight contest at home.
• even its Ivy League record at 1-1.
• cut Cornell's advantage in the series record against Columbia to 123-99.
• be the 1,211th in program history (1,210-1,340 in 114 seasons).
• Columbia brings a 12-6 overall record and a 1-0 Ivy League mark along with a five-game win streak.
• The Lions have won seven of eight overall, including victories over Colgate and Stony Brook, and are an impressive 9-1 at home.
• The Lions have been extremely balanced all season and have three in double figures and six players averaging at least five points per game.
• Leading the way are Alex Rosenberg (13.9 ppg., 3.6 rpg.), Maodo Lo (13.8 ppg., 4.2 rpg.), and Grant Mullins (13.3 ppg., 3.2 rpg., 2.5 apg.).
• Isaac Cohen (4.4 ppg., 5.9 rpg., 2.8 apg.), a 6-4 guard, leads the squad in both rebounding and assists.
• Columbia is shooting 45 percent from the floor and 41 percent from beyond the arc while outrebounding foes by nearly five per game (34.7-29.8).
• Head coach Kyle Smith, in his fourth season on the Columbia sidelines, has a 54-50 overall record. His teams have posted an impressive 39-22 non-conference record.
THE CORNELL-COLUMBIA SERIES:
• Columbia leads the all-time series between the programs 123-98.
• Cornell has won 16 of the last 23 meetings between the squads.
• Columbia has won five of the last seven contests.
LAST TIME VS. COLUMBIA
• After three minutes, it looked like heavily-favored Columbia was going to run away from Cornell in the Ivy League men's basketball opener for both teams. But Cornell scratched and clawed, playing its best defense of the season, and never let the Lions break it open. Columbia eventually won 71-61 on Jan. 18 at Levien Gymnasium, but only after some tense final moments.
• Junior Devin Cherry scored 16 points to lead three double figure scorers, while freshman Darryl Smith had 12 points and five rebounds and sophomore Nolan Cressler chipped in 11 before becoming one of three backcourt players to foul out.
• Senior Jake Matthews, who also fouled out, had a season-high seven points off the bench.
• Columbia's Alex Rosenberg had a game-high 20 points, while Grant Mullins scored 19.
• Maodo Lo scored 12 and Isaac Cohen notched 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists to lead the Lions.
• Columbia shot 48 percent from the floor, but turned the ball over 17 times.
IVY LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE WEEK:
• Two Cornell freshmen have earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors a total of three times so far in 2013-14.
• The last time two Cornell rookies captured a weekly conference honor was in the 2011-12 season when Shonn Miller was named Ivy ROW five times and Galal Cancer captured the accolade once.
• Robert Hatter was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Nov. 11 after averaging 20.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in games against Syracuse and Loyola (MD).
• Hatter also captured the honor on Dec. 2 after posting 18.3 points in contests against Radford, Western Michigan and Notre Dame.
• Darryl Smith was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Jan. 20 after he scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished two assists and blocked a shot in 32 minutes off the bench in the conference opener at Columbia.
HOW TO FOLLOW CORNELL:
• There are numerous way to follow the Big Red through the 203-14 basketball season.
• Men's basketball games will be broadcast on HITS 103.3 FM for the 2013-14 season. Longtime voice of the Big Red Barry Leonard returns on the call with the play-by-play, while former All-Ivy center Eric Taylor'05 is on board to do color analysis.
• A half-hour pregame show and postgame analysis will enable Big Red fans to follow Coach Bill Courtney's team throughout the season.
• The audio of all games will also be available as part of the IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork subscription service.
• The Big Red's home contests will all be broadcast live with streaming video as part of the IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork subscription service. Visit www.IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork.com for all the latest information on Cornell broadcasts.
• Cornell will use SIDEARM Live Stats for each of the Big Red's home games in 2013-14. Visit www.CornellBigRed.com for all of the official statistics.
• You can follow the team on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Highlights, interviews and features on all 36 of Cornell's varsity sports can be found at www.youtube.com/cornellathletics, www.facebook.com/cornellathletics or www.twitter.com/cornellsports.
• The Big Red will continue its string of five of its first six Ivy contests on the road when it visits Brown and Yale next weekend.
• Cornell will face the Bears on Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. before heading to Yale on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. .
• Both games will be available on the Ivy League Digital Network.
• The Big Red returns home to face Dartmouth on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena.