Harvard is off to a 10-1 start, with the only loss coming to ninth-ranked Connecticut earlier this month. The Crimson have won two straight since then, including a 63-51 triumph over Florida Atlantic last Thursday, their program- record 20th consecutive home win. It was their first-ever home game as a ranked team, and the atmosphere was electric at Lavietes Pavilion.
Although Harvard won't have the home crowd advantage this time around, the team has managed an impressive 7-1 record so far outside of Cambridge.
Meanwhile, Boston College has rebounded from a four-game skid by winning three straight, each by double digits. Those three victories kicked off the Eagles' season-long five-game homestand, which they will conclude on Monday against Rhode Island before opening ACC play the following weekend at North Carolina. The Eagles have been idle since last Wednesday's 83-73 victory over Sacred Heart.
BC holds a commanding 32-12 series edge. However, the Crimson have won the last three meetings, including a 78-69 win over the Eagles last season.
The Crimson were in a nip-and-tuck battle throughout last week's game with FAU, but they were able to seal the victory with an 18-6 run over the final seven minutes and change. The Crimson took a 34-28 lead into the half behind a 58 percent shooting effort from the floor (11-of-19) and a 17-9 rebounding advantage in the opening frame. However, they let the Owls back into it early in the second half before going on that late run. Harvard went on to shoot 55.3 percent for the game, while holding a 17-8 scoring advantage at the foul line and a key 34-20 rebounding edge. Keith Wright recorded his second double- double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while point guard Brandyn Curry joined him in double figures with 12 points and a game-high seven assists.
On the season, Kyle Casey leads the squad with 11.5 points per game, followed by Wright (10.9 ppg) and Laurent Rivard (10.1 ppg). Curry (6.7 ppg), although not a big-time scorer, orchestrates the offense from the point and is averaging 4.8 assists. While the Crimson aren't exactly blowing teams off the court with their 66.6 ppg, they rank among the national leaders in scoring defense (55.0 ppg allowed). Earlier this season, the team had not allowed more than 49 points in a span of four straight games (Nov. 24-Dec. 1) for the first time since the 1946-47 season, which was prior to the invention of the shot clock and the three-point line.
Harvard's swarming defense figures to make things tough for the Eagles, who are scoring just 62.2 ppg and are shooting only 40.9 percent from the floor as a team. BC is -4.2 in rebounding margin and -2.1 in turnover margin through 12 games, although the team has begun to pick things up of late. The Eagles scored 66 points in a win over Stoney Brook on December 11, then followed that up with 75 points against Bryant and 83 against Sacred Heart last week. Patrick Heckmann (11.2 ppg) and Matt Humphrey (10.2 ppg) are the team's only two players averaging double figures entering this game. Humphrey is shooting a dismal 29.8 percent from the floor, and he has accounted for 20 percent of the team's field goal attempts thus far.
However, Humphrey gained some confidence with a career-high 18 points against Sacred Heart. He made 5-of-10 field goals and went 5-of-7 at the foul line, while freshman Dennis Clifford also recorded a career-high with 16 points in the win. Clifford shot 6-of-7 from the floor and added six rebounds and three blocks to his stat line. Freshman Ryan Anderson contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, while Lonnie Jackson scored all 12 of his points in the second half. The Eagles went on an early 10-2 run to establish the lead, and they were in the driver's seat for much of the game. BC, which shot 55.3 percent from the floor, made 11-of-22 three-pointers and went 20-of-29 at the foul line.