Cambridge, MA – The 101st season of Harvard basketball is 2 record and No. 22 ranking in this week's AP poll into this afternoon's Ivy League opener against the visiting Big Green of Dartmouth.
Dartmouth is having almost the exact opposite season as its counterpart today, as the Big Green has dropped 12 of its first 15 games, including the last five in a row. A 67-59 setback at home to Bucknell was the most recent, and the team's woes have really taken root outside of Hanover, New Hampshire, this year, as it is just 1-7 in true road games, and 1-9 away from home when you factor in a pair of neutral-site bouts.
Harvard has picked up wins over such schools as Utah, Florida State, Boston College and Saint Joseph's this season. A double-digit loss to defending national champion UConn in early December was to be expected, but the team's second setback occurred in its most recent outing, as the Fordham Rams took down the Crimson this past Tuesday in a 60-54 final. Needless to say, Harvard's second stint of the season in the top-25 is likely over after just one week, but that won't deter the team from continuing its mission of vying for the Ivy League crown.
The Crimson are 4-0 at home this season, and they won all seven of their home games against the rest of the Ancient Eight last year.
Dartmouth owns a 94-78 lead in the all-time series with Harvard, but the Crimson have won the last four meetings.
A lack of offensive production has been Dartmouth's downfall this season, as the team is averaging just 58.6 ppg in hitting a mere 39.2 percent of field goal attempts. The team has been somewhat careless with the basketball, turning it over more than 14 times per game, and the squad is routinely outworked on the glass, albeit by just around two rebounds per game. The Big Green does not have a single player averaging double figures in the scoring column at the moment, although all five starters net at least 7.5 ppg, with R.J. Griffin leading the way with 9.9 ppg. Gabas Maldunas and Jvonte Brooks handle the bulk of the rebounding duties, coming up with 6.8 and 6.0 caroms per contest, respectively. Maldunas logged a double-double consisting of 15 points and 10 boards, but it wasn't enough to get Dartmouth over the hump as it fell to Bucknell earlier this week. Tyler Melville came off the bench to add 12 points for the Big Green, who also got 10 points from Jabari Trotter.
For the most part, Harvard has relied on balance and consistency to achieve success this season, as the team has run out the same starting five in all 14 games, and no player is averaging more than 11.6 ppg. Kyle Casey owns that scoring figure, and he adds 5.9 rpg to the equation while shooting a stellar 53.6 percent from the field. Not to be outdone, fellow forward Keith Wright is hitting his field goals 57.1 percent of the time and is averaging 10.9 points and a club-best 7.6 rebounds per affair. As a team, Harvard is shooting 45.4 percent from the floor, 36.5 percent from three-point range and 73.2 percent from the foul line, all leading to 66.3 ppg. Defensively, the Crimson allows just 55.7 ppg to the opposition, and controls the glass to the tune of a +4.7 rebounding margin. Despite a memorable night for senior Keith Wright (1,000 career points), Harvard put forth a poor effort at Fordham earlier this week, shooting a mere 36.4 percent from the floor, missing 22 of its 30 three-point attempts along the way. Brandyn Curry scored 15 points as the only player to reach double digits for the Crimson, who committed 15 turnovers and allowed the Rams to knock down nearly half of their total shots (.488).