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Visit From Kennesaw State Kicks Off New Year

Trey Phills (Steve Musco photo)
Trey Phills (Steve Musco photo)

Bulldogs Host Owls Wednesday In Lee Amphitheater

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale welcomes in the new year with a visit from Kennesaw State on Wednesday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Owls, who compete in the Atlantic Sun conference, will be making their first trip to New Haven. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., and ESPN+ has the video with John Ryan and Frank Maturo on the call.

The Bulldogs (7-3) enter 2019 on a roll. They have won three straight games and six of their last seven, including a 99-84 victory over Albany on Dec. 22. The only loss during the stretch came at No. 1 Duke on Dec. 8.

The success has caught the attention of the NCAA Tournament prognosticators. In his latest Bracketology on ESPN, Joe Lunardi projects Yale as a No. 13 seed in the tournament, facing Texas Tech in the first round, and Ken Pomeroy in a column on The Athletic website has Yale as the Ivy League favorite with a 42 percent of winning the title.

The Bulldogs, though, are far more focused on getting ready for Ivy League play, which kicks off on Jan. 19 at Brown. After Kennesaw State, Yale has only games at Cal State Northridge (Jan. 5) and home vs. Skidmore (Jan. 8) before the league opener.

The Bulldogs nearly reached the 100-point mark for the third time this season in the win over Iona. Yale leads the Ivy League in scoring offense (81.9 ppg.) and assists (18.5 per game) and is second in field goal percentage (.492). The Bulldogs are also doing the job on the boards. They outrebounded Iona 53-30 and lead the league in rebounding margin at +5.8.

Sophomore Paul Atkinson is coming off a career game in the win over Iona when he scored 23 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the field. Dating back to the Albany game on Dec. 11, Atkinson has made 15 straight field goals, which has Yale fans harking back to the 2015-16 season when Brandon Sherrod '16 made an NCAA record 30 straight field goals.

Atkinson (10.5 ppg.) is one of four Bulldogs averaging double figures in scoring. Miye Oni leads the team at 17.2 ppg., while Jordan Bruner (11.1 ppg.) and Blake Reynolds (10.5 ppg.) are the other double figure scorers. In all, Yale has seven players averaging at least 7.7 points.

The Bulldogs are 3-0 in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater this season. They are averaging 89.0 points, shooting 52.4 percent from the field and outrebounding their opponent by more than 15 per game at home.

HISTORY LESSONS

Yale and Kennesaw State played for the first time last year, an 89-74 Bulldog victory in Georgia. Miye Oni and Paul Atkinson combined for 42 points. Oni flirted with a triple double, finishing with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Atkinson was 10-of-12 from the field en route to scoring 20 points. Azar Swain scored 14 points. Trey Phills also had a solid game, scoring 10 points, grabbing three rebounds and blocking three shots in 35 minutes.

SCOUTING KENNESAW STATE

The Owls are playing their second game since returning from a break for the holiday. They fell 87-57 at Georgia Tech on Friday. Kennesaw has played eight of its 14 games away from home, including a narrow 55-52 loss to Missouri in the Paradise Jam. Tyler Hooker leads the team in scoring (18.9 ppg.) and three-pointers (21). In addition, he has attempted a team-high 73 free throws. Al Skinner, who guided his teams to nine NCAA Tournament appearances and four conference titles during tenures at the head coach at the University of Rhode Island and Boston College, is in his fourth season at the helm of the Kennesaw State program.

Report filed by Tim Bennett (timothy.bennett@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity