First half fireworks lead Columbia past Brown

Even before the game started it was going to be an uphill battle for Brown at Levien Gymnasium. Leading scorer and the team heartbeat Sean McGonagill was unable to play due to injury and the Bears have no way to replace him.

Overmatched Brown tried to pack it in against Mark Cisco, play slowly and hope the Lions missed their shots – and boy did that backfire. The Lions shot 11-18 from three in the first half and put on a dominating performance on the way to an 86-60 victory on Saturday night.

“We played really well,” said Columbia head coach Kyle Smith. “When that happens it’s fun for a coach.”

Columbia (14-9, 3-4) played its best offense of the season in the first half on the way to 47 points in 29 possessions (1.62 points per possession). Not until 16 minutes into the game did  the Lions committed their first turnover of the half, on a travel by John Daniels after a rebound, and they’d already collected 11 of their 16 first half assists.

It was the shooting of Brian Barbour (2-3), Meiko Lyles (5-7) and Chris Crockett (3-5) from three that drove the offense forward in the first half. Barbour found ways to be a creative playmaker. Recognizing that Brown didn’t have a player who could stay in front of him Barbour drove and kicked to teammates on the perimeter and finished with eight assists in the first 20 minutes. Barbour finished with a career-high nine assists in the game and 16 points in just 25 minutes.

“He’s been really developing as a point guard,” Smith said about Barbour. “We had to add some ways to score. Sometimes it takes time. We added it six weeks, hopefully we’re seeing the result of it and gave ourselves a little more chance.”

Crockett scored a career-high 18 points on 6-10 three-point shooting for the game and Lyles added 17. Cisco played only 18 minutes, but he scored 10 points and grabbed five boards.

“Shots went in,” Crockett said. “My guys found me. We pretty much played within the offense and it was perfect. There wasn’t a lot of one-on-one. There was a lot of ball movement and we knocked shots down.”

Coming into the game Columbia had struggled shooting the three both in Ivy League play at home, the Lions bucked both of those trends in one game, tying a season-high with 16 threes.

“It was frustrating,” Crockett said. “We knew that these shots would fall eventually. Unfortunately we had to get a couple losses, but now that they are falling it does feel great and hopefully that can carry over to the next three home games.”

Brown (7-17, 1-6) head coach Jesse Agel tried to stem the tide, but with a depleted roster that includes just nine healthy players there wasn’t much he could do. Even when his team made a smart play, such as fouling late in the final Columbia possession before half, it backfired. Barbour’s acrobatic layup gave the Lions a 23-point lead at the break.

The Lions didn’t let up during the second half either. The threes kept coming and Columbia got the lead out to as many as 33 points before Brown was able to stem the tide. The Bears did shoot well from three, hitting 10-19, but they also shot 14-43 inside the arc. Matt Sullivan led Brown with 17 points on 6-11 shooting, including 4-6 from three.

Columbia’s offense struggled, but maybe its the defense

After another heart-breaking Ivy League loss, 62-58, to Princeton on Saturday night at Levien Gym Columbia sits at 0-2 and in last place in the conference. Even at home it was going to be a tough opening weekend for the Lions, but in two games decided by a total of six points Columbia couldn’t quite find the answers down the stretch.

Continue reading “Columbia’s offense struggled, but maybe its the defense”

SGOTW: Columbia vs. Princeton

Ivy League play kicks off this weekend and Columbia has the benefit of getting a home set for the first two games. This gives the Lions the opportunity to at least get a split (and possibly a sweep) during the first weekend and get Kyle Smith’s team up to the top of the standings. I answered some questions ($) for Jon Solomon over at Princeton Basketball and he was kind enough to return the favor. Learn about Princeton in the Q&A and then check out some statistical keys to the game.

Continue reading “SGOTW: Columbia vs. Princeton”

Assist Tracker: Dec. 30

Roderick Pearson Jr. (G, Oral Roberts) — Pearson had 12 assists as the Golden Eagles continued to roll through the Summit League with a 79-67 win over South Dakota. Dominique Morrison scored 27 points for ORU and Pearson assisted on six of Morrison’s 10 baskets. Five of Pearson’s assists were on jump shots.

Jordan Theodore (G, Seton Hall) — Theodore gave out a nice even distribution of assists in Seton Hall’s 67-48 win over West Virginia on Friday. He had 18 points and eight assists for the Pirates in the win. Four of Theodore’s eight assists went to Fuquan Edwin, who led the team with 19 points. There were three layups, three threes, a jump shot and a dunk in Theodore’s eight pack.

Brian Barbour (G, Columbia) — Three of Barbour’s seven assists in Columbia’s 77-67 win over Lafayette went to Meiko Lyles. There were three threes, three layups and one jumper in the seven. Blaise Staab got two assists from Barbour and scored seven points for the Lions.

Phil (Flip) Pressey (G, Missouri) — When you have a scorer like Marcus Denmon on your team you can get a lot of assists by feeding him. That’s what Pressey did last night in a tough 75-68 win at Old Dominion. Four of Pressey’s seven assists went to Denmon, who scored 19 points in the win. In fact, all but one of Denmon’s makes from the field came on passes from Pressey. The seven assists went for four threes and three layups.

Emmy Andujar (F, Manhattan) — Well, Andujar did have seven assists in the Jaspers’ blowout victory over Binghamton, but unfortunately there’s no play-by-play on ESPN.

Season Snapshot: Columbia

The first five games of Columbia’s season were quite dramatic. The Lions lost their leading scorer from a year ago, Noruwa Agho, at the end of the second game of the season against Furman. That has forced Kyle Smith to change up some of the things he intended to do, but on Saturday against Manhattan his team finally broke through for its first victory of the season, 59-41.

Continue reading “Season Snapshot: Columbia”