With 71-66 and 66-53 wins over George Mason and Bucknell, respectively, overThanksgiving break, the men’s basketball team has opened their season with a 5-1 mark for the first time since current head coach Mitch Henderson ’98's team did so duringHenderson’s senior season.
The Tigers have now won five in a row over PatriotLeague schools and seven of the last eight, with their last loss coming in Novemberof 2011 at Bucknell (3-4).Senior guard T.J. Bray led the Tigers to victory over George Mason (5-2) on Tuesday, earning his first career double-double with 10 assists and 18 points and becomingthe first Tiger since 2003 to record 10 assists without a turnover. Aftermissing the first three games due to injury, the senior guard has returned to theTigers to add key minutes and points off the bench in only his second game back.
“Its great having T.J. back,” junior guard Ben Hazel said. “The kid does so much for usoffensively and defensively.”
Hazel led the team in minutes played against George Mason with 35 and wassecond on the team in points scored with 14. Hazel and Bray each made two three-pointers, a shot that has become key to the Princeton offense over the past couple ofyears.
In Saturday’s win over Bucknell, the Tigers scored 30 of their 66 points from beyondthe arc.
“The three-pointer has naturally become a major part of our success this year,” Hazelsaid. “It’s not intentional — we just have a lot of guys who can consistently make anopen shot.”
The Tigers shot 40 percent from beyond the arc on Saturday, compared to a total fieldgoal percentage of only 38.5 percent for the night.After an 8-0 run toward the end of the half sent them into halftime with a 30-27 lead, they started off slow again during the opening minutes of the second half, allowingBucknell the first five points of the period. However, another 8-0 run built the lead back up and the Tigers would not trail again for the rest of the game.
Bray and sophomore forward Hans Brase led the team in scoring with 15 pointsapiece, while Bray almost had his second double-double in as many games, as he alsorecorded nine rebounds on the night. Brase was perfect from beyond the arc, hitting allthree three-point field goals he attempted.With one additional assist on Saturday, Bray is now four assists away from tying ArmondHill '85 for 10thplace on the Princeton career list with 260 career assists.
The Tigers are now 4-0 this season when they go into halftime with thelead.Princeton will host Fairleigh Dickinson Saturday at 7 p.m. in Jadwin Gymnasium.