January 23, 2004

M. Cagers Visit Big Apple

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Columbia has not won an Ivy League men’s basketball game since late in the 2001-02 season, a span of 17 games. The Cornell men’s basketball team will hope to extend that streak to 18 tomorrow, when it wraps up its season series with the Lions at Levien Gymnasium in New York City.

The Red enters tomorrow’s game following its worst offensive performance of the season Tuesday night at Bucknell. The team shot only 29 percent from the field, and allowed the Bison’s young big men to have their way in the paint. Senior co-captain Ka’Ron Barnes and junior Cody Toppert combined for 30 points on the night, but shot just 11-for-36 from the field in the process.

The loss was a far cry from the dominating effort the Red put forth just three days earlier in Newman Arena. Playing in the conference opener for both squads, the Red dominated the Lions last Saturday, 90-66, the most Cornell has scored in any game this season.

The Lions will try to foil Cornell’s plans for a sweep, as head coach Joe Jones will roam the sidelines in the first home conference game of his career. Always a tough place for opponents to play in, Levien Gym has given the Red fits as of late.

After a commanding halftime lead last season, the Red allowed Columbia back in the game, even allowing the Lions to tie the score before escaping with a 55-53 victory. Prior to last year, Cornell had not won in New York since the 1997-98 season.

Aside from Barnes and Toppert, the Red will rely on a strong game from junior co-captain Eric Taylor at center. Taylor saw limited action in last week’s game after sustaining a hip strain in the first half. He scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting in only 26 minutes Tuesday at Bucknell.

Columbia is led by Matt Preston, who is averaging 14.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and Dragutin Kravic (10.5 ppg). Last week in Ithaca, the pair combined for 23 of the Lions’ 66 points, the only two Columbia players to score in double figures.

Under Jones, Columbia has already doubled last year’s win total, now standing at 4-10 with the bulk of the conference season yet to be played. Cornell, on the other hand, will look to pick up the victory as it continues to make a move towards the upper echelon of the Ancient Eight.

Archived article by Owen Bochner