Jason Ben Nathan | Sun Senior Photographer

After seeing a total of 10 minutes of playing time in the first three games of the season, senior guard Darryl Smith has averaged 15 minutes in the past two games.

November 29, 2016

After Blowout Loss to Houston, Men’s Basketball Regroups for Home Match Against Northeastern

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The Cornell men’s basketball team looks to rebound from Saturday’s deflating loss to Houston with a home match against Northeastern on Wednesday.

The Red (1-5) was outclassed by an undefeated Houston squad (5-0). The Cougars set the tone early, establishing an early 14-0 lead to squash any hopes that the match would be a tight contest.

Cornell made one field goal out of its first 13 attempts as Houston built a 26-2 lead that proved insurmountable. The team amassed 19 turnovers on the day, in addition to a field goal shooting percentage of just 31 percent. The Cougars ended with an 83-53 win.

“We had a number of open shots to start the game that just didn’t go in,” said head coach Brian Earl. “We know what we are doing but there is a concern that the shots from the 3-point range just aren’t going in.”

Earl said the team has been working on shooting in the past week in an attempt to convert a greater percentage of its shots.

“Our assistant coaches are saying we are doing more shooting [in practice] than any team they have ever been a part,” he said.

Sophomore guard Matt Morgan led the Red with five 3-pointers and 23 points.

“My teammates created open shots and I created open shots for them,” Morgan said. “I’ve had games when I’ve had 30 points and I’ve had games with 0-5, but as long as we are winning and I’m setting up my teammates it’s a good game for me.”

Earl said the team is aiming for an improved performance against Northeastern.

“They move the ball very well,” the first-year head coach said of Northeastern’s squad. “They have a point guard who is a problem. He is big and strong, and knows how to move the ball well.”

Huskies’ point guard T.J. Williams is averaging 22.5 points and 6.2 assists per game. His season was highlighted by a 26-point, 10-assist performance against Maine on Nov. 20.

Northeastern (4-2) is coming off a 73-70 win against Kent State, rallying to overcome a 42-25 deficit at halftime. The Huskies had trailed for all of the match, up until a 3-pointer from Devon Begley gave them the lead with two minutes remaining.

Cornell last met Northeastern in the 2004-05 season, when the Huskies won a tightly contested 88-85 contest. Northeastern holds a 4-1 all-time advantage over the Red.

“Northeastern is a big team, they went to UConn and got a win, also beat BU on the road. It’s going to be a good test for us,” said senior guard JoJo Fallas.

Fallas said he believes the team can improve on its shooting percentage, echoing Earl’s focus.

“We shoot a lot of shots, we believe that we are going to make them, but sometimes it just doesn’t fall and that’s the nature of the game,” Fallas said. “We are ready to get back at it and eager to show that we can knock down shots next game.”

The team will likely be without sophomore forward Donovan Wright for the third game running. Wright was instrumental in the team’s only win of the season, an 82-73 win over the Leopards.

Earl said he is unsure when Wright will return, but indicated that the player is back in practice.

“We just got to learn how to play without him,” Morgan said of Wright. “We are playing the same way, it all just comes down to making in shots.”

This is the team’s last game before the squad breaks for the final exams period. The Red competes in the Las Vegas Invitational at the end of December.