Columbia (8-4, 0-0 Ivy)
After rolling to an Ivy League-best 4-1 start, Columbia continued its impressive play in December while facing more formidable foes. After falling behind 50-43 to Sacred Heart, the Lions, led by forward Dragutin Kravic’s 20 points, stormed back to top the Pioneers rather handily, winning 76-67 at home Dec. 9. The team then lost consecutive games for the first time this season, falling to undefeated Hofstra. The Pride, who at 8-0 have roared out to their best start since 1973, humiliated the Lions 64-40, holding them without a field goal for the first nine minutes of the second half. Columbia put up a respectable effort against No. 15 North Carolina State while playing in the Holiday Tournament at Madison Square Garden, but despite hitting eight of their first 13 three-pointers and leading 52-50 midway through the second half, they fell to the Wolfpack 84-74. The team took the third-place game over Canisius two days later, winning its first game in the Garden since 1988, but fell to Lafayette 65-62 the next day when a Kravic three-pointer rimmed out with four seconds left. The Lions easily disposed of Army 75-59 last Tuesday night at West Point, N.Y., and the well-rested Lions bring their Ivy League-best 8-4 record upstate to Ithaca, N.Y. Saturday night to play their first Ivy game against Cornell.
Princeton (8-5, 0-0 Ivy)
The Tigers rattled off their fourth win in a row Dec. 12 against Monmouth (N.J.) 56-52, setting the school record for consecutive successful free throws with 18. Their winning streak was snapped in Philadelphia the next week, when the legendary John Chaney, coaching in his one-thousandth game, and his Temple Owls squeaked past Princeton 48-46. Princeton headed to El Paso, Texas for the Sun Bowl Tournament Dec. 27, and Judson Wallace hit 20 of his 22 points in the second half to lead the team past Tulane 58-51 and into the championship game. The Tigers were not so lucky in the championship game, getting pounded by hometown Texas-El Paso 68-42. Princeton had mixed results in a quick swing down to North Carolina last week — Wallace hit two free throw shots with 11 seconds left on the clock to beat Davidson 70-68 in a double-overtime thriller Jan. 2, but No. 5 Duke celebrated the 65th anniversary of Cameron Indoor Stadium last Wednesday with a 59-45 victory over the Tigers in Durham, N.C. The 8-5 Tigers will break for exams and must wait until Jan. 28 to get their first taste of Ivy action against Brown at home.
Brown (6-7, 0-0 Ivy)
After storming back to .500 following a dreadful 0-4 start, the Bears fell victim to Keith Simmons’ 30 points at Holy Cross in a 81-74 defeat Dec. 21. Brown bounced back in an overtime thriller against host Central Florida a week later at the UCF Holiday Tournament, nullifying a 13-point second-half deficit to win 83-82 in the final seconds of overtime. The Bears pounded Charlotte Southern 65-52 the next day to win the tournament. Embarking on a six-week stretch without a home game, Brown took on crosstown rival Providence College Jan. 3. The Friars continued their domination of the Bears with a 79-63 victory, their 21st in 23 games between the two teams. Ivy League points leader Jason Forte could only muster 12 against struggling Canisius Thursday night, as the Golden Griffins snapped their eight-game losing streak against the Bears in a 67-56 victory. Brown’s first Ivy game comes against the Bulldogs Jan. 22 at Payne Whitney.
Cornell (5-7, 0-0 Ivy)
After a busy stretch in which they played four games in seven days, the Big Red shot a dreadful 36 percent and fell victim to a 15-1 run late in the second half as Bucknell trounced them 55-45. Coming off this ugly defeat, Cornell went up against national powerhouse Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, and kept pace with the Orangemen for much of the game. The Big Red set a school record by shooting 62.5 percent from behind the three-point line, but ultimately Hakim Warrick’s double-double was too much for Cornell, as they fell 82-69 to prolong a 37-year losing streak against Syracuse. Guard Lenny Collins, third in the Ivy League with 15.9 points per game, led the team in scoring in their last two wins on the road against Lehigh and Army, with 18 and 14 points respectively. The Big Red kick off their Ivy League season Saturday night against Columbia in Morningside Heights.
Pennsylvania (4-6, 0-0 Ivy)
The Quakers have had a disappointing month, and travel to nearby Rider Wednesday night mired in a four-game losing streak. Crosstown rival Villanova defeated Penn handily on New Year’s Eve, despite Ibrahim Jaaber’s 22 points. After equally frustrating losses to San Francisco and Illinois-Chicago, the Quakers have four more non-league games before starting Ivy play against Yale Jan. 28.
Harvard (5-9, 1-1 Ivy)
The Crimson played in a flurry of nonleague games over the past month before kicking off their Ivy League season against Dartmouth last week. December highlights included two overtime thrillers — an 85-83 win over Colgate, led by Dave Giovacchini’s 20 points, and an 98-93 loss to Tennessee Tech Dec. 30 in the third-place game of the Saturn Shootout in Charleston, S.C. In the Ivy League opener, Matt Stehle’s 25 points were enough to shut down Dartmouth 76-74 in Cambridge, Mass. Jan. 2. The two teams squared off a second time Saturday night in Hanover, N.H. with the Big Green holding off a late Crimson run to seal a 79-76 win. After an early taste of Ivy League action, Harvard does not play another league game until Jan. 29 against Cornell.
Dartmouth (4-9, 1-1 Ivy)
The Big Green spent most of December on the road after an impressive 69-67 home victory over UNH. A brief West Coast swing proved very disappointing, as Dartmouth lost in a double-overtime heartbreaker at UC-Davis and then provided Stanford’s 17th straight home win in a 71-54 rout in Palo Alto, Calif. After their two-game split with Harvard this past week, they will square off against Vermont and Colgate before heading to New York to face Columbia Jan. 29.