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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, February 1, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Palestra (8,722) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Columbia 3-4, Penn 2-3. Away Record: Columbia 5-3, Penn 1-9. Neutral Record: Columbia 1-0, Penn 0-3. Conference Record: Columbia 1-1, Penn 0-1. Series Record: Penn leads, 136-85.
GAME NOTES: The Penn Quakers open up a four-game homestand on Friday night, as they play host the Columbia Lions in an Ivy League showdown at The Palestra.
Columbia began Ivy League play with a home-and-home series against Cornell, winning on the road on Jan. 19 (67-58) and dropping the home matchup last Saturday (66-63). Despite their most recent loss, the Lions have played well of late, winning four of their last six contests to improve to 9-7 overall.
Penn's season has been a struggle from the very start as it sits at a dismal 3-15, and its only win in the past 11 outings came in a 54-53 decision over NJIT on Jan. 17. The Quakers most recently faced cross-town rival Temple on Jan. 23 and fell on the losing end of a 76-69 decision.
Penn holds a 136-85 advantage in the storied series with Columbia, which includes a season sweep during the 2011-12 campaign.
The Lions appeared to be dead in the water down by 15 to Cornell with just over 10 minutes to play in their latest game before they went on a 27-13 run to pull to within one in the final minute, but they could not complete the comeback. Columbia did not shoot very well from the floor (.361) and it was outscored from the foul line, 25-11. Brian Barbour led the way with 15 points, despite shooting just 5-of-17 from the field, while Alex Rosenberg and Maodo Lo added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Columbia is one of just three Ivy League teams sporting a positive scoring margin (+5.1) this season, as it nets 65.8 ppg while allowing just 60.7 ppg. Barbour is the spark plug, ranking fifth in the league in scoring (13.6 ppg) and second in assists (4.8 apg), and while his field goal percentage leaves a lot to be desired (.364), he is nearly automatic from the free-throw line (.897). Grant Mullins chips in 11.1 ppg, Rosenberg adds 10.3 ppg, and Mark Cisco in solid in the paint with 9.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, and more than a block per contest.
Penn held a surprising two-point lead at intermission at Temple in its last game and continued to lead late in the second half, but it lost control down the stretch as the Owls surged ahead by using an 11-0 run late to pull away. It was still an impressive offensive performance for the Quakers, both from the field (.453) and the foul line (.938). Miles Cartwright tallied 21 points and six rebounds, Patrick Lucas-Perry shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range for 15 points, while Darlen Nelson-Henry (17 points) and Henry Brooks (10 points) were also impressive in the setback. Penn is not terribly potent at the offensive end of the court (.415 FG percentage, 62.1 ppg), and its scoring defense (69.9 ppg) ranks last in the league. With the team's best player, Fran Dougherty (15.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg), missing the last seven games, Cartwright has assumed the role of go-to scorer with 13.5 ppg, while also dishing out a club- best 3.4 apg. Nelson-Henry is the next-best scoring option for the lackluster Penn attack with 7.4 ppg.
Penn's struggles have been so great this season that even a return to The Palestra doesn't seem likely to cure it. Columbia has much more depth than do the Quakers, and it should be able to utilize it for a road triumph.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Columbia 68, Penn 64
02/01 10:30:39 ET