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Yale @ Cornell | College Basketball

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Yale @ Cornell | College Basketball

By Don Phillips

Yale Bulldogs at Cornell Big Red

6:00 PM ET, Friday, March 4, 2016
Newman Arena at the Fieldhouse, Ithaca, New York
TV: ASN | Video: ILDN

Yale enters the final weekend of the regular season in first place in the Ivy League, but there remains much work to be done to secure a second straight Ivy title. The Bulldogs end Ivy play with the grueling New York road trip, starting on Friday at Cornell at 6 p.m. followed by a Saturday matchup with Columbia at 7 p.m. at an already sold out Levien Gym.

Friday’s game against the Big Red is being syndicated on the American Sports Network and will air in New England on NESN Plus. Both games can be viewed on the Ivy League Digital Network.

Yale (20-6 overall, 11-1 Ivy) is clinging to a half-game lead over second-place Princeton (10-1). Columbia (9-3) also is still alive, although a Bulldog victory or a Columbia loss (vs. Brown) on Friday eliminates the Lions. Princeton still has three games remaining – at Harvard on Friday, at Dartmouth on Saturday and home vs. Penn next Tuesday.

The bottom line for the Bulldogs is if they win both games on the trip they will be guaranteed at least a share of the Ivy championship. Yale, which has five Ivy titles overall, hasn’t won back-to-back crowns since 1962 and 1963. The Bulldogs also were Ivy champions in 1957 (the first official year of the league) and 2002 (shared with Princeton and Penn).

Yale, which lost to Harvard last year in an Ivy Playoff, hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1962. The Bulldogs also made NCAA appearances in 1949 and 1957. Yale, which has won 15 of its last 16 games and is likely to be playing in the postseason regardless of the outcomes this weekend, has reached 20 overall wins for the second straight year and the seventh time in school history.

The other 20 win seasons are 1904-05 (22), 1906-07 (30), 1907-08 (20), 1948-49 (22) and 2001-02 (21). The Bulldogs have reached double figures in Ivy wins for the 10th time. The school record for league wins is 13 set in 1962. The 1957 team finished 12-2.

Yale enters the weekend third in the nation in rebounding margin (10.8), 16th in scoring defense (63.4 ppg.) and 17th on offensive rebounds (13.73). In addition, the Bulldogs lead the Ivy League in field goal percentage defense (.406). Two Bulldogs – Justin Sears (16.7 ppg., 4th) and Makai Mason (15.7 ppg., 6th) — are in the top 10 in the league in scoring and three – Sears (7.4 rpg., 5th), Nick Victor (7.2 rpg., 6th) and Brandon Sherrod (7.0 rpg.,t-8th) – are in the top 10 in rebounding.

James Jones, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs, earned his 250th win last Friday against Harvard. Jones, the winningest coach in school history, who is in his 17th season, is third in league history in overall wins (251) and fourth in lvy wins (139).

The Big Red (9-17, 2-10 Ivy) is one of the youngest teams in the league with only one senior. The backcourt has been Cornell’s strength, as freshman Matt Morgan (18.9 ppg.) and junior Robert Hatter (17.9 ppg.) are the league’s top two leading scorers.

Morgan, a five-time Ivy Rookie of the Week and one-time Ivy Player of the Week, is averaging 23.3 points in Ivy League play – 3.6 ppg. more than second place Evan Boudreaux of Dartmouth (19.7 ppg.). Morgan became the Ivy League’s all-time freshman scoring leader last weekend.

Selection: Yale