Harvard (15-7) at Brown (9-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, February 22, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pizzitola Sports Center (2,800) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: MyRITV. Home Record: Harvard 11-1, Brown 6-3. Away Record: Harvard 4-6, Brown 3-10. Neutral Record: Harvard 0-0, Brown 0-0. Conference Record: Harvard 7-1, Brown 3-5. Series Record: Harvard leads, 92-72.
GAMES NOTES: Ivy League leading scorer Wesley Saunders and the Harvard Crimson will invade the Pizzitola Sports Center on Friday night for a conference spat with the Brown Bears.
Harvard has ascended to the top spot in the Ivy League with wins in six of its last seven games. At 7-1 in conference play the Crimson have a one and a half game lead over second place Princeton, which the Crimson eased by, 69-57, last time out. Harvard also has the best overall record in the conference (15-7) as it gets set for this four-game road trip that continues against Yale on Saturday.
Losses in four of its last five games has kept Brown away from the upper echelon of the Ivy League as the Bears are currently in sixth place in the eight-team league (3-5). Overall the Bears have a 9-13 mark but a 69-66 defeat to Cornell last Saturday kept them from reaching double digit wins. This is game number three of a four-contest homestand for Brown that wraps up on Saturday against Dartmouth.
Harvard continued a winning streak against Brown this season with an 89-82 victory in early February. The Crimson have now won seven straight against the Bears and now lead the all-time series, 92-72.
The second half told the story of Harvard's win over Princeton. After both teams shot better than 50 percent in the first 20 minutes, the Crimson locked up the Tigers to just 31 percent in the second half to earn the victory. Kenyatta Smith tied for a team-high 14 points and swatted six shots as well.
It is Saunders (16.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.7 apg) who is normally at the top of the score sheet as he leads the Ivy League in that regard. Saunders has done so by shooting 54.8 percent from the field, while contributing across the board as well. Siyani Chambers (13.0 ppg, 6.0 apg) has had no trouble scoring himself but may be more vital as the conference's leader in assists. Laurent Rivard (10.5 ppg) is the only other double figure scorer while Smith has been a dominant defensive force on the interior ranking second in the Ivy League in blocks (2.0 pg). Led by Saunders the Crimson are the top scoring (70.3 ppg) and shooting (.488 FG percentage) team in the conference.
Brown trailed by as many as 14 points against Cornell and despite cutting that deficit to just a single point with 6:32 remaining in the second half, was never able to push ahead. The Bears did have a 41-31 edge in rebounds but had 16 turnovers that led to 16 Big Red points.
The Bears are fortunate enough to have one of the better scoring combinations in the conference in Matt Sullivan (14.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Sean McGonagill (14.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.1 apg). McGonagill is also among the top five players in the conference in assists, but has shot just 38.9 percent from the field. Sullivan has been just marginally better in efficiency, netting 40.2 percent of his field-goals attempts. Rafael Maia (10.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is a complement on the interior as is Cedric Kuakumensah (6.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg), who has been one of the better freshmen in the Ivy League. Brown is shooting below 40 percent from the floor as a team but does rank at the top of the league in rebounds (35.8 pg).
With Smith and Kuakumensah on the interior this game will be won from the outside. That is quite an advantage for Harvard which has been much more selective and successful with its field-goal attempts.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Harvard 70, Brown 65
02/22 10:35:02 ET