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Harvard needs to improve defensively with Princeton showdown six days away

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With Princeton suffering a surprising home loss to Yale on Saturday, the Harvard Crimson entered today’s rescheduled game against Columbia with a chance to move a game ahead of the Tigers in the loss column atop the Ivy League standings.

Kyle Smith’s Lions, who got off to a less than stellar start to league play, had other ideas.

Steve Frankoski hit five three-pointers and led four Lions in double figures with 27 points in the 78-63 Columbia victory. The result drops Harvard (5-1 Ivy) back into a first place tie with Princeton (4-1), with the first meeting this season between the reigning champions and preseason favorite coming next Saturday.

Wesley Saunders was the only player to have a good afternoon offensively for Harvard, and their defensive issues were exposed as a result.

The sophomore, whose role is far greater this season due to the departure of Kyle Casey, shot 8-of-11 from the field and scored 27 points. Thirteen of those points came in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as Harvard shot 8-of-21 from the field and 0-of-5 from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes.

Remove Saunders’ numbers for the entire game and the other Crimson players combined to shoot 10-of-31 from the field. By comparison Columbia shot 50.9% from the field and 9-of-17 from three, with this simply being the first time that Harvard’s lost as a result of their defense in Ivy League play.

In the five league games before Sunday’s defeat Harvard opponents shot 46.2% from the field, and after Columbia’s offensive performance the Crimson are seventh in the Ivy League in field goal percentage defense (47.0%).

With the offensive talent that Harvard possesses they’d been able to rack up some sizable leads in Ivy League games, most recently leading Cornell by as many as 19 points on Friday night (67-65 Harvard win), but their defense has allowed teams to fight their way back.

Columbia made Harvard pay on Sunday, and if the Crimson don’t improve defensively Princeton is every bit as capable of doing the same.

Photo credit: Columbia University Athletics (Steve Frankoski)

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

WATCH LIVE: Atlantic 10 basketball doubleheader Saturday on NBCSN

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: A detailed view of a Spalding basketball during a quarterfinal game between the Davidson Wildcats and La Salle Explorers in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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The Atlantic 10 invades NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Saturday with two games that will air as part of a doubleheader.

It starts with Fordham at UMass at 12:30 p.m. and concludes with Rhode Island heading to Duquesne at 2:30 p.m.

CLICK HERE to watch the Atlantic 10 on NBCSN

VIDEO: North Carolina ball boy makes three straight halfcourt shots

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During North Carolina’s blowout win over N.C. State on Jan. 8, the Tar Heels weren’t the only ones in the building who were feeling it.

As it turns out, North Carolina ball boy Asher Lucas was the hottest shooter of anyone in the building that night.

During halftime of that Jan. 8 game, Lucas nailed three consecutive halfcourt shots, as his father, Adam Lucas, a North Carolina columnist, released the video this week to YouTube. The video quickly went viral as Asher’s unreal streak of shots was all over TV and the Internet.

The Tar Heels have been struggling to find consistent perimeter shooting for the last few seasons, so maybe they need to start scouting Asher for a future roster spot.

 

VIDEO: Milwaukee wins on Brock Stull buzzer-beater

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Milwaukee Athletics
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Milwaukee picked up a Horizon League win on Friday night as guard Brock Stull knocked in a buzzer-beater to topple Cleveland State.

Stull only had four points on the night as he played 30 minutes and finished with five assists and six rebounds.

Oregon’s Dillon Brooks is ‘in a walking boot’, status still unclear

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 11: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks shoots the ball over Ar'Mond Davis #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of the game at Matthew Knight Arena on December 11, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
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Oregon released a statement on Friday afternoon that said star forward Dillon Brooks had seen doctors and was in a walking boot, but gave no further update on his condition.

Brooks suffered what the program termed a “lower leg injury” on Thursday night against Cal. The injury was to his left leg – on replay, it looked like he rolled his ankle – which is concerning because his left foot is the foot that he injured over the summer, which caused him to miss the first three games of the season.

“He’ll be evaluated in the next couple of days and see where he’s at,” head coach Dana Altman said after Thursday’s game.

Allonzo Trier cleared to play vs. UCLA

Arizona head coach Sean Miller talks with guard Allonzo Trier (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern State in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP)  ALL LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; PAC-12 OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; GREEN VALLEY NEWS OUT
Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star
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Allonzo Trier’s most recent drug test came back negative, meaning that the leading returning scorer for the Wildcats will be eligible to play on Saturday when Arizona plays a visit to UCLA.

Trier had been suspended for the first 19 games of the season following a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug. He appealed to the NCAA and actually won, claiming that he unknowingly ingested the substance after someone he trusted gave him a product to help him recover from a car accident during the offseason.

The NCAA’s stipulation, however, was that he could not play until the PED had cleared his system.

Trier averaged 14.8 points last season for Arizona. He’ll join a back court that already includes Kadeem Allen, Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons, as well as Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Along with Lauri Markkanen, who has the look of a lottery pick, Trier was expected to be Arizona’s best player this season. While he has not been allowed to play this year, Trier has been practicing and traveling with the team. It may take him a while to work his way back into game shape and into the flow of the team, but it won’t be because he’s rusty.

The Wildcats are currently 17-2 on the year and 6-0 in the Pac-12. They play No. 3 UCLA in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday. The Bruins are a game out of first place in the conference standings.