Spending the holidays in the Hawaiian islands, the Tigers made the most of their trip in the tropics and came out first place in the consolation ladder of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Their victory on Christmas Day capped off one of the longest road trips in recent memory for the Tigers, who have won four of their last five and have evened their record for the first time this season.
After the impressive win in overtime against USC, the Tigers (now 7-7) made the trek to Hawaii to participate in the Diamond Head Classic. It was the first time Princeton has ever participated in the tournament and a chance for them to play some teams that also look to be mid-major conference contenders this season. Two teams in the tournament had already seen the Orange and Black this season: No. 6 Miami Hurricanes – who defeated the Tigers handily earlier in the month – and USC.
Princeton started off the tournament with a game against Middle Tennessee. Currently first place in the C-USA, the Blue Raiders presented the Tigers with perhaps the best non-conference example of what their Ivy League challengers may pose: a leading mid-major school looking to win its conference and make some noise in the NCAA tournament. In terms of excitement, this game was probably the second-best the Tigers had this season, behind the exhilarating USC game earlier in the month. No team ever held a lead larger than six, and that was only when the Tigers were up 6-0 in the first three minutes of the game. In the final seconds of the game, freshman forward Sebastian Much drilled a three-pointer off the feed from senior guard Amir Bell to tie the game at 67. But with 2.3 seconds remaining, Blue Raider guard Giddy Potts nailed a jumper to sink the Tigers in a heartbreaking 69-67 defeat.
While the loss knocked the Tigers out of the winners bracket, they were back again the next day for a battle against Akron. The Zips – one game out of first place in the Mid American Conference – responded from a tough loss to USC with a close game against Princeton. Just like the game against Middle Tennessee, the Tigers played a back-and-forth game with eight lead changes and no lead larger than five points. With the game tied, junior guard Myles Stephens banked in a shot off the glass at the buzzer to defeat the Zips, 64-62.
Playing back-to-back, down-to-the-wire victories, the Tigers got some well deserved rest on Christmas Eve. The team spent the holiday together enjoying the day off before playing the first Christmas Day game in program history. It was a matchup against the hosting Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, who the Tigers had beaten last season in the Pearl Harbor Invitational. The Tigers won handily 77-63, with junior guard Devin Cannady leading the way, registering 28 points and 8 rebounds. From his performance in the Diamond Head Classic, Cannady earned Ivy League Player of the Week Honors.
The Tigers' victory over the Warriors concluded a 12-day, 10,500-mile road trip. They wrap up their non-conference schedule with a 7-7 record and now have a long week and a half off before kicking off their Ivy League season against Penn with a showdown in the Palestra.