Columbia (8-6) at Cornell (8-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Newman Arena (4,473) -- Ithaca, New York. Television: NBC Sports Network. Home Record: Columbia 3-3, Cornell 3-4. Away Record: Columbia 4-3, Cornell 3-5. Neutral Record: Columbia 1-0, Cornell 2-0. Conference Record: Columbia 0-0, Cornell 0-0. Series Record: Columbia leads, 121-97.
GAME NOTES: The Columbia Lions hit the road to take on the Cornell Big Red at Newman Arena in the Ivy League opener for both sides.
The Lions own a 121-97 all-time series lead versus Cornell. The Big Red have been victorious in 15 of the last 20 meetings, including their 65-60 decision on Jan. 28, 2012 in the most recent encounter. These schools will meet again next Saturday.
Columbia enters conference action with an 8-6 record that includes an impressive road win over Villanova. The Lions have not been in action since dropping a 78-69 decision to Holy Cross on Jan. 8. Cousy Award candidate Brian Barbour is at the front of the charge with 13.4 points, 5.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per contest, while Grant Mullins is contributing 11.5 points per tilt. Columbia has the fourth most productive offense in the Ivy League with an average of 65.9 points, but its success stems from its defensive effort that limits the opposition to 60.5 ppg, which is the second lowest mark in the conference.
The Lions went into halftime of their bout at Holy Cross trailing by nine and lost by the same margin after never getting loser than eight after the break. Their zone defense which usually stifles foes was offset by the Crusaders' 6- of-11 shooting from 3-point range. Mullins scored a team-high 16 points while Alex Rosenberg (15 points, five rebounds), Steve Frankoski (13 points), Barbour (11 points, five assists), and Mark Cisco (10 points) all reached double-figures as well. Columbia shot 45.8 percent from the floor in the setback, but it was ultimately outperformed offensively by Holy Cross.
Cornell picked up its second straight victory a week ago with a 103-84 rout of Old Westbury in a shootout. The Big Red have won four of their last five to arrive at an 8-9 record. Since they have a very balanced attack, Shonn Miller is the only player on the team with a double-figure scoring average. Miller, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year, is netting 10.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. Cornell has been inconsistent this season. It has posted 79.4 ppg on 50 percent shooting in its eight wins to just 54.9 ppg with a .350 field goal percentage in the losses.
The Big Red lit up the scoreboard against their Division III foe Old Westbury last time out. guard Johnathan Gray caught fire to produce 24 points with a 6- of-11 clip from 3-point range. Errick Peck posted 16 points, seven boards, and two blocks, while Nolan Cressler and Devin Cherry combined to tally 29 points. Although Cornell shot 63.1 percent from the floor and won easily, it allowed the Panthers to knock down 13-of-26 from beyond the arc.
Cornell's defensive effort must improve as it progresses into Ivy League play, as there are plenty of teams with adept long range shooters. Columbia holds a slight edge, but it will have trouble overcoming the Big Red's homecourt advantage.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Columbia 71, Cornell 66
01/19 11:00:01 ET