GAMES NOTES: The Harvard Crimson will take their conference leading record into Newman Arena for an Ivy League battle with the Cornell Big Red on Friday night.
The Crimson have locked up wins in each of their four conference bouts this season and five of the last six games overall. Harvard also has the best overall record (12-6) in the Ivy League, a conference with just three teams with double-digit wins on the campaign. Harvard is just 3-5 in its away contests and will head south to New York City to face Columbia on Saturday.
Cornell is another one of the teams in the conference with a double-digit win total overall at 10-11. The Big Red have split their four conference games after earning a 71-69 win over Penn last Saturday. It was the second win in the last three games for Cornell which has just a 3-5 mark at Newman Arena this season. Cornell will host Dartmouth in the second half of this weekend's games.
Harvard needed two overtime sessions to deal with the pesky Brown Bears last time out. The Crimson got out to a 49-36 lead at halftime but shot just 36.8 percent from the field while collecting seven field goals in the second half. After the teams stayed even after one overtime period, Harvard scored the first four points in the second and held on by hitting 3-of-4 free throw attempts down the stretch.
On its way to the top spot in the Ivy League, Harvard has been the best offensive team in the conference by far. The Crimson are scoring 70.8 points, per game, handing out 14.6 assists per game and shooting 48.6 percent from the field. Each of those marks ranks first in the Ivy League while its field-goal percentage has Harvard among the top 15 programs nationally. Wesley Saunders (16.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.1 apg) has been sensational this season and just earned his fourth Ivy League Player of the Week honors. Siyani Chambers (13.3 ppg, 6.1 apg) runs the point efficiently, leading the conference in assists. Laurent Rivard (11.4 ppg) is another solid option at the offensive end.
A jump shot from Gala Cancer with 10 seconds remaining lifted Cornell to a 71-69 victory over Penn last Saturday. The Big Red shot at a 50.9 percent clip from the field in the contest, but also allowed the Quakers to hit an even 50 percent of their shots from the field. Cornell was able to secure the win due in large part to the 21-8 edge it had in points off turnovers.
There is a bit more balance on the offensive end for Cornell which features seven players scoring at least six points per game but none more than Shonn Miller (10.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg). The 6-foot-7 forward has been even more vital for his efforts on the glass, as he ranks among the top five players in the league in rebounds and blocks. Jonathan Gray (9.3 ppg) is the second option offensively, though he shoots at just a 38.8 percent rate from the floor. Cornell is scoring 65.8 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting. On defense Cornell has struggled, allowing 69.7 points per game on 45.1 percent shooting.
Led by Saunders, Harvard looks to be playing on a different level than any other team in the conference. Though the Crimson haven't been dominant on the road, they should have enough to stay perfect in league play.