Coming off a tough 87–65 loss to Yale (14–6 overall, 4–3 Ivy League), the Princeton men’s basketball team (14–6, 5–2) currently sits atop the league, tied with Cornell (15–5, 5–2). This weekend, the Tigers will look to keep their first-place standing after matchups against the Cornell Big Red on Friday, Feb. 3 and the Columbia Lions (6–16, 1–6) on Saturday, Feb. 4 in Jadwin Gymnasium.
On Jan. 7, when the Tigers last faced the Big Red, Princeton produced a strong second half to secure the 75–68 road victory. This time, the two meet at home with sole possession of the league lead on the line.
Men’s basketball also dominated Columbia in a 68–49 win on the road earlier this season, and they will look to continue that success against the Lions, who are currently ranked last in the conference. Assistant Sports Editors Hayk Yengibaryan ’26 and Diego Uribe ’26 offered their picks for this weekend’s contests.
Men’s basketball vs. Cornell
Princeton 80, Cornell 76: Diego Uribe, Assistant Sports Editor
The Tigers and the Big Red last faced off in Ithaca on Jan. 7 in a matchup that was decided in the final minute of play. While the Tigers prevailed, the Big Red posted only 68 points in the game, their second-lowest total of the year. Is head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 the first coach in the Ivy League to figure out how to stop Cornell’s offense, or did the Tigers get lucky with some uncharacteristically poor shooting from Cornell?
The Cornell offense ranks first in the Ivy League, while their defense ranks last. Although Cornell’s defense has proven lackluster, they lead the Ivy League in steals per game. Turnovers have been a problem for the Tigers all year – with the worst turnover margin in the Ivy League of -2.45, the Tigers turn the ball over on average 2.45 more times than their opponent. The Big Red will certainly be looking to capitalize on Tiger carelessness.
Cornell, however, will find it very difficult to get any second-chance points against the senior forward duo Keeshawn Kellman and Tosan Evbuomwan, who have helped the Tigers lead the Ivy League in rebounding. The Big Red rank last in total rebounding, so expect the Tigers to dominate the glass.
If the Tigers can control the paint like they have all year, limit turnovers, and prevent an exceptionally hot shooting night from Cornell’s guards, their talent and shot-making should be enough for them to secure a close home win and, once again, take sole control of first-place in the Ivy League.
Cornell 76, Princeton 74: Hayk Yengibaryan, Assistant Sports Editor
After a disappointing loss to the Yale Bulldogs during their last outing, the Tigers have a chance to get back in the win column Friday night at home. Coach Henderson will look to beat the Big Red for a second time this season — this time on the same night, he celebrated defeating Cornell as a player in ’96, ’97, and ’98.
Cornell head coach Brian Earl ’99 was a teammate of Henderson at Princeton on each of these three iconic Princeton teams, and Earl even captained the Tigers as a senior. A former Tigers assistant coach, Earl moved to Cornell in 2016 and is coming off an impressive year, having been named the 2021-2022 Ivy League Coach of the Year. Unfortunately for Henderson, Earl has built the Big Red into a serious contender for the Ivy League title this season.
Cornell is averaging 84.9 points a game while shooting 48.6 percent from the field. Guard Greg Dolan, who averages 13.2 points per game, leads in scoring. However, Dolan is not the only high-scorer on the roster: the Big Red boast six players averaging at least eight points per game, and they will threaten to score from just about anywhere.
The Tigers, on the other hand, are averaging 75.2 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the field. Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan is averaging 13.7 points per game and will look to once again lead the Tigers Friday night. When the teams faced off in Ithaca, Evbuomwan had one of his best games of the season, putting up 15 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.
Cornell’s offense, the best in the Ivy League, should have no problem scoring against a Tigers defense that has struggled in their last two outings. However, with the league’s top teams meeting, expect many lead changes and a back-and-forth battle.
In their last matchup, Cornell eked out a 80–73 win against Brown (10–10, 3–4), but the Big Red shot just 42 percent from the field and, overall, struggled offensively. Expect Cornell to make the offensive adjustments needed after their last game to come into Jadwin and get a big win Friday night.
Men’s basketball vs. Columbia
Princeton 75, Columbia 52: Diego Uribe, Assistant Sports Editor
The Tigers last faced Columbia on Jan. 6, handily defeating the Lions 68–49 in the Lions’ home arena. We can expect the same on Saturday, as the Lions have failed to improve on both ends of the floor. They rank last in the Ivy League in both points scored and points allowed per game, as reflected by their 1–6 conference record.
The Lions have just one player averaging double-digit points per game: guard Geronimo De La Rosa. De La Rosa will be the x-factor for the Lions if they hope to pull off an upset. He has posted 19 points in consecutive Ivy League games and will be the focal point of the Lion offense.
If the Tigers can keep De La Rosa in check, their playmaking and shooting should be too much for the Lions to handle; expect an easy Tiger win.
Princeton 75, Columbia 59: Hayk Yengibaryan, Assistant Sports Editor
The Columbia Lions will visit Princeton Saturday evening after taking on Penn Friday night. The last time the Lions beat the Tigers was February 17, 2018. Since then, the Tigers have convincingly won seven consecutive games.
Viewers can expect much of the same Saturday evening. With their talent on both sides of the court, the Tigers should be able to establish an early lead and control the tempo of the game, securing a comfortable win at the end of the 40 minutes.
Diego Uribe is an Assistant Editor to the Sports and contributor to the News section at the ‘Prince.’
Hayk Yengibaryan is an Assistant Editor to the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
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