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Men's hoops sweeps Ivy pair as fans prepare to welcome Quakers

After months of turmoil, all is finally well in Carmodyville. For the first time this season, the entire roster was medically cleared to play, and the men's basketball team turned in two dominating performances.

The entire 15-player roster got involved in a 72-47 thrashing of Dartmouth Friday, and rode on the back of sophomore center Chris Young for a 73-55 win over Harvard Saturday. Young turned in the most extraordinary performance of the weekend, shooting 10 of 11 from the field and scoring 30 points Saturday night.

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"We just couldn't stop Chris [Young]," Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said. "He's better than he was a year ago and we had absolutely no answers for him. He got his threes in a variety of ways, he put the ball on the floor really well, and he scored out of the low post. We didn't have any answers."

The Crimson concentrated their defense on Young, starting out the game in a 2-3 zone and daring the Tigers to beat them from the 3-point line. Young answered the challenge and broke the defense by shooting 4-5 from beyond the arc.

Apollo Creed

In fact, the only way Harvard slowed him down was with an elbow to the face 11 minutes into the game. He returned six minutes later with an eye that would have made Rocky proud.

"I didn't think anything had happened," Young said. "I turned to get off the court and I saw the ref and he said, 'Oh my God.' I thought I had lost my contact, but when the ref said that I knew it was bad."

The injury seemed to have little effect on his game, as he continued to pour it on. His driving two-handed dunk broke a 13-13 tie and gave Princeton a lead it would never lose.

"He came out tonight with a lot of energy," Princeton coach Bill Carmody said. "He was cutting like I haven't seen him cut since last year. He seemed to have a zest for playing tonight."

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Young was not as active against Dartmouth, scoring only two points. The rest of the team more than picked up the slack.

The game was highlighted by the unexpected return of senior forward Mason Rocca, who came in eight minutes into the game. He had nine points and five rebounds in only 11 minutes of action.

Rocca scrimmaged with the team in practice once last week. He has not fully recovered from the Dec. 29 surgery that removed bone chips from his foot but was cleared to play this weekend.

"These next two weeks are the heart of the season," Rocca said. "If I would have eased it along the whole season could have been gone."

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While Rocca provided the spark that ensured the game's outcome was never in question, on offense the Tigers were led by an unlikely hero — sophomore guard Ahmed El-Nokali.

What Young did to Harvard's defense, El-Nokali did to Dartmouth's. El-Nokali drew the Big Green toward the perimeter with three three-point baskets early in the contest.

"We tried to cheat and help out on Young," Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher said. "We paid for it when Ahmed started making shots."

A regular starter and defensive star, El-Nokali is not normally a large part of the Tiger offense, looking to pass first and averaging only 5.5 points per game. There was no hesitation on Friday, as El-Nokali went 6-9 from the floor and scored a career-high 15 points. He scored eight straight points, sparking an early 12-0 run that put Princeton in control.

"They weren't covering me in the beginning," El-Nokali said. "They were sagging off me totally and then once I hit a couple of shots I just started to get into a rhythm."

Ten Tigers scored against Dartmouth. Even junior forward Nate Walton, playing with only his left hand, scored six points against the Big Green. Walton helped kill a Harvard rally in the second half with two three-point plays. Walton made all four of his shot attempts and scored 10 points.

The Tigers shot better than 50 percent in both games and their solid defensive play ensured the lopsided results. They forced 17 turnovers against Dartmouth and 19 against Harvard. Both opponents shot under 40 percent.

Freshman Spencer Gloger, who had 11 points in the victory over Dartmouth, held Harvard forward Dan Clemente to two points on 1 of 6 shooting in the first half. Clemente ended up with 11 points, eight below his season average.

Princeton held Dartmouth forward Shaun Gee and guard Greg Buth, who averaged 18.7 and 16.1 points per game, respectively, to four points, all by Buth. The Big Green's only double-digit scorer was Flinder Boyd.

Boyd, a five-foot, 11-inch guard, was especially welcomed by the Jadwin crowd. Whenever he touched the ball, he was treated to the Smurfs' theme song.

There was a lot for the crowd to get excited about this weekend. After Young sealed the Harvard game with an alley-oop dunk from Gloger, the crowd began chanting "We want Penn," referring to the upcoming showdown with the Quakers for first place.

Now that everyone has finally returned, the Tigers may be ready too.

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