M. BASKETBALL | Hoops at home

The going only gets tougher.

Coming off splits the last two weekends, the Bulldogs (9-13, 4-4 Ivy) conclude their four-game home stand with visits from Columbia and Cornell, the two teams atop the Ivy League standings.

Last weekend, the Bulldogs opened with a convincing 60-48 victory over then first-place Princeton (9-11, 4-3). But the win was followed by a letdown the following night as Yale fell, 68-63, to Penn (8-13, 4-3).

The Elis begin this weekend hosting first-place Cornell (17-7, 7-1) tonight at 7 p.m. At 7-1 in conference play and two games ahead of the pack, the Big Red are in control of their own destiny in their pursuit of a second consecutive Ivy League crown and appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Cornell opened up the conference schedule 4-0 — including a 64-36 rout of Yale in Ithaca, N.Y. — to run its Ivy League win streak to 19 before Princeton upset the Big Red in New Jersey on its way to a 4-0 start of its own. But the Tigers have dropped their last three contests, and the Big Red sit comfortably atop the standings after reeling off three victories in a row.

Cornell leads the league in scoring by over six points per game, averaging 74.5 ppg. Three double-figure scorers lead the Big Red: Guard Ryan Wittman is third in the conference with a 18.2 points per game average, while reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Louis Dale averages 14.5 and seven-footer Jeff Foote averages 12 per contest.

On the whole, Cornell ranks first or second in almost every major statistically category in the Ivy League — including scoring margin, free-throw shooting, field goal percentage, rebounding margin and assists.

Sitting behind the Big Red is the other Ancient Eight school from the Empire State — Columbia (10-12, 5-3). The Lions roll into New Haven on Saturday night to battle the Elis at 7 p.m. on the YES Network.

The Lions have won five of six and are in second place in the Ivy League, two games behind the Big Red and a half game in front of the Tigers. Earlier in the season, Yale traveled to Manhattan with a 2-0 conference record but were held to just 42 points in an 11-point loss against Columbia.

Jason Miller, last week’s Ivy League Player of the Week, has been a standout for the Lions. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 10.2 points per game and is tied for the conference lead in rebounds, with an average of seven per contest.

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