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After opening league play with a thrilling overtime win against Penn, Princeton men’s basketball (12-5 overall, 2-1 Ivy League) faced Brown and Yale this weekend, kicking the Ivy League season into full gear. Expectations are high in a wide-open league as the Tigers look to contend for the title and an NCAA tournament spot this year.

On Friday, Princeton traveled to Providence to face a struggling Brown team (6-12 overall, 1-3 Ivy League) which had won just one of its last five games. The Tigers took care of business, winning 83-59 in a game that was largely over by halftime. Junior forward Spencer Weisz had the hot hand early, shooting 4-6 from three in the first half as Princeton jumped out to a big lead. The Tiger offense, led by Weisz with 16 points, junior forward Henry Caruso with 13 and freshman guard Devin Cannaday with 12, continued to be a team strength as Princeton broke 80 points for the fourth time in five games. Princeton turned in a strong defensive performance as well in holding the Bears to just 35% shooting and forcing 20 turnovers. One area for improvement was three point shooting, usually a strength of the Tigers; besides Weisz, the rest of the team went just 1-16 from behind the arc. For Brown, the lone bright spot in an otherwise forgettable game was the play of guard Steven Spieth, who scored a career high 24 points.

The Tigers then traveled to New Haven to play title favorite Yale (13-5 overall, 4-0 Ivy League), which was also undefeated in the league, in a crucial clash of league contenders. Despite a strong performance on their rivals’ home court, Princeton was unable to overcome the Bulldogs and lost 79-75. After falling behind by 12 early, Princeton rallied back behind hot shooting from Caruso, the game’s high scorer with 26 points, and Weisz to close the gap to six by halftime. The second half then mirrored the first, as Yale took a 16 point lead behind the inside scoring of forward Brandon Sherrod and the three-point shooting of guard and leading scorer Makai Mason. Princeton, however, fought back again, with Cannaday leading the way by scoring 11 points in the last nine minutes. A Cannaday three-pointer had Princeton within three with 50 seconds to go, but after a stop on defense the Tigers were unable to score on their next possession. With Princeton forced to foul, Yale junior Anthony Dallier hit a free throw with 15 seconds left to put the game out of reach.

Despite the loss, such a close contest away to the pre-season favorite bodes well for Princeton’s title chances. Furthermore, the consistency of the trio of junior forwards in Caruso, Weisz and Peter Miller coupled with the emergence of Cannaday points to an exciting push for an NCAA tournament berth by the Tigers. Princeton’s next game is home to the defending champion Harvard, which has struggled early on but always presents a threat. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday.

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