Yale Faces Dartmouth, First-Place Harvard
Video: Ivy League Digital Network
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs took care of business at home last weekend, sweeping Columbia and Cornell. Now Yale heads out on the road, facing Dartmouth on Friday and first-place Harvard on Saturday. Tipoff on both nights is slated for 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs (9-9, 3-1 Ivy) enter the weekend tied with Brown in second place in the Ivy League, one game behind Harvard and one game in front of Dartmouth and Columbia.
Yale continues to focus on getting to the basket. In their first four league games, the Bulldogs have gotten to the free throw line 146 times (36.5 times per game), while their opponents have shot 90 free throws. Sophomore Justin Sears is a big reason why. Sears was 16-of-19 from the line in the two wins last weekend on his way to earning Ivy League Co-Player of the Week recognition. Sears, who is fourth in the league in scoring (15.3 ppg.) and rebounding (6.7 rpg.), averaged 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the sweep of Columbia and Cornell. Sears leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots (29). Javier Duren (13.4 ppg.) also is averaging double figures in scoring.
While the main focus remains on the race for the Ivy title, there is a milestone within reach this weekend. James Jones, the Joel E. Smilow, Head Coach of Men's Basketball, has 199 career victories, all while guiding the Bulldogs. He would be only the second coach in school history to reach 200 wins and just the fourth coach to win 200 or more games at an Ivy League school.
3 KEYS FOR YALE
One Game At A Time – Harvard is the prohibitive Ivy League favorite, has received a bunch of national media exposure and is off to a 4-0 league start. The Bulldogs, though, can't afford to focus on the Crimson until after Friday's game at Dartmouth.
Defend – The Bulldogs were solid defensively for most of last weekend's sweep of Columbia and Cornell. Yale held the Lions to 35.9 percent shooting from the field and then limited Cornell to 31.8 percent in the first half. The Big Red, though, shot 54.5 percent in the second half and nearly rallied to win. The Bulldogs need a solid 80 minutes of defense this weekend.
Make Free Throws – Yale has been outstanding at getting to the free throw line through the first four Ivy League games. The Bulldogs, though, are shooting just 63.7 percent once they get there.
• Javier Duren scored 19 points, seven of which came in the final five minutes, in last Saturday's victory over Cornell. In addition, Duren was 12-of-15 (.800) from the free throw line in the two games last weekend.
• Matt Townsend shot 66.7 percent (6-of-9) from the field last weekend. In the win over Columbia he scored 11 points in 29 minutes.
Yale has won five of the last six meetings with Dartmouth. The two teams split the season series last year, with Dartmouth winning 71-62 in Hanover and Yale taking the game in New Haven 78-67. Matt Townsend averaged 11.5 points in the two games last year. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 107-95.
Yale and Harvard are playing for the 189th time. The Bulldogs have more wins (115) over the Crimson than any other opponent. Harvard swept the season series last year, winning a pair of close games. The Crimson knocked off the Bulldogs 67-64 in Cambridge and 72-66 at Lee Amphitheater. Justin Sears averaged 12.0 points in the two games.
The Big Green (9-9, 2-2 Ivy) is coming off a big weekend. Dartmouth beat Penn 67-58 last Friday and then won a 78-69 overtime thriller over Princeton on Saturday. Junior John Golden, who averaged 17 points and shot 60 percent from the field in the sweep, was named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week, sharing the honor with Yale's Justin Sears. The Big Green is without the services of leading scorer Gabas Maldunas, who suffered a season-ending injury in practice a few weeks ago. Connor Boehm (10.9 ppg.) and Alex Mitola (10.4 ppg.) average double figures in scoring.
The Crimson, who host Brown on Friday night, has won 19 straight games in Lavietes Pavilion dating back to last season, the sixth longest home win streak in the NCAA. Harvard's 17-3 record is the third best in program history behind only the 1945-46 team which began 19-1 and the 2011-12 squad which opened 21-2. The Crimson lead the Ivy League in scoring defense (60.7 ppg.), field goal percentage (.463), blocked shots (104) and steals (166) and is second in scoring offense (73.7 ppg.) and free throw percentage (.736). Wesley Saunders, a unanimous All-Ivy League first team selection a year ago, entered the weekend ranked in the Ancient Eight's top 10 in nine categories; scoring (5th, 15.2 ppg), assists (3rd, 3.9 apg), steals (1st, 2.3 spg), blocks (8th, 0.9 bpg), field goal percentage (10th, 49.2 pct.), free throw percentage (6th, 78.8 pct.), assist-to-turnover ratio (5th, 1.5), defensive rebounds (10th, 3.9), minutes (5th, 33.2 min.).
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity