January 24, 2001

M. Hoops at Utah State

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If there is anything more fun than playing basketball in Utah, I don’t know what it is. The Cornell men’s basketball team had this very pleasure over winter break, taking on Air Force and Albany at the Utah State Tournament, December 29-30. Unfortunately for the Red, both teams were quite up to the challenge as both handed them losses, 63-51, and 72-59 respectively.

On a positive note, senior tri-captain Ray Mercedes’ 26 points helped him to a selection on the all-tournament team.

The break had begun well for the team, as they trounced Skidmore on December 4th, 83-50. Mercedes and junior guard Wallace Prather each hit 14 points while freshman guard Ka’Ron Barnes notched 11.

After being bounced by Bucknell on December 9th, 75-59, the Red almost held its own against Canisius one week later, falling 78-71. After playing a brilliant first half and taking a 41-29 lead into the locker room, the Red faltered, giving up a 50-point second half and the game to the Golden Griffins.

Having experienced a number of tough battles, the Red took a great deal of optimism into its December 22nd contest at Lehigh only to be beaten 73-55. Mercedes notched a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

After the Utah Tournament, the Red was ravenous for a victory. It had let too many winnable games slip away from its grasp. Cornell consequently blew by Colgate and Sacred Heart with a combined score of 140-117. Mercedes hit the 20-point mark for the second time this season while senior center Greg Barrette picked up double-digit rebounds for the third time this winter.

The following weekend, the Red opened its Ivy season at league favorites, Penn and Princeton. Both teams’ defenses suffocated Cornell’s offense, holding it to two of its three lowest point totals of the season.

Princeton used an 18-0 run early in the first half to turn a six-point Red lead into a 24-point Tiger blowout. Barnes paced Cornell with 13 points and three assists.

Like Princeton, Penn also burst out of the opening gate, jumping to a 34-16 lead. Unfortunately for Cornell, the Red has not yet turned into a team that can play catch-up. Barratt almost had a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, over the break, Barnes just got better and better, earning two more rookie-of-the-week honors, bringing his total to three. He is the only freshman to have won the award more than once this year. His 154 points are second for the team, while his 17 steals tie him for first with Wallace Prather.

With its first Ivy League win this past Saturday against Columbia, Cornell looks to get back on track for the rest of the semester.

Archived article by Sumeet Sarin