The Yale men’s basketball team faces off against Brown for the second time in six days Friday night, this time in Providence. Last Saturday, in the first meeting of the two teams’ annual home-and-home to open the season, the Bulldogs defeated the Bears 77–68.
Due to winter storm Jonas, which is set to roll into New England on Saturday, the contest — in addition to many others around the northeast — was rescheduled to accommodate travel plans.
Although both teams lose a day of game planning and preparation, guard Nick Victor ’16 downplayed any potential impact caused by the rescheduling on the streaking Elis (10–5, 1–0 Ivy), who have won their last five games by an average of 24.6 points.
“We have a lot of time to prepare, two full weeks, so the first week we go over their plays and we change up some of our plays,” Victor said. “Then the second week, this next game, is more about adjustments to make. It’s more what we think their team is going to adjust to and how we should combat that, and how we can adjust to some of the new plays that they ran.”
In last Saturday’s matchup, the two teams combined for 49 fouls as the game stretched to almost two-and-a-half hours from start to finish, despite just 40 minutes of gameplay.
Brown forward Cedric Kuakumensah paced the Bears (5–10, 0–1) with 18 points, including shooting 8–10 from the foul line and a pair of three-pointers, though the senior was held to just a 4–16 performance from the field. Kuakumensah, a three-year team captain, leads the team with 13.9 points per game. He currently needs only two points to break the 1,000-point scoring mark for his career.
“I think we did a good job on him,” forward Justin Sears ’16 said of Kuakumensah. “We need to repeat our performance. If he makes two threes, he makes two threes.”
Sears played just nine minutes in the second half as he was limited with foul trouble. The Plainfield, New Jersey native fouled out with more than four minutes left in the second half, not long after he was issued a flagrant foul for an altercation with Brown’s Travis Fuller.
Sears and Kuakumensah will go toe-to-toe on the block once more on Friday. Both are especially talented on defense, with Sears entering the game averaging 1.8 blocks per game, while Kuakumensah holds the Ivy League record for career rejections with 273. Kuakumensah is also a two-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.
With Sears limited to zero points in the second half, Yale relied upon guards Makai Mason ’18 and Victor to carry the offensive load. Mason scored 12 of his game-high 20 in the second half, while Victor added 11 points in the final frame.
Victor finished the game with a double-double, notching 15 points and 11 rebounds, in addition to four assists and four blocks. The Texan has a chance to continue his impactful senior campaign, as Yale has not lost in the four games in which Victor has grabbed double-digit rebounds.
Victor is one of three Elis to rank among the top 10 rebounders in the Ivy League, alongside forward Brandon Sherrod ’16 and Sears.
According to Sears, the Bulldogs are determined to open their title defense on the right track against a team they swept last season.
“It will be huge. It gives us a little breathing room knowing that we knocked out a travel partner,” Sears said. “It is definitely going to be a tough league this year. It will be great just to be 2–0, and ahead of the pack a little bit.”
Although the Elis have already defeated Brown once, and despite Brown being projected to finish in the bottom half of the Ivy League in the Preseason Media Poll, it was not long ago that the two teams battled down to the wire. In the two teams’ second meeting a year ago, in New Haven, Yale outlasted Brown 69–65 in a hotly contested affair.
Heading into Friday’s action, Yale head coach James Jones said he expects a close, challenging test.
“I am anticipating a hard-fought basketball game,” Jones said. “Every Ivy League game is going to be that way. You have to go out and defend, rebound and share the ball on offense. Hopefully, we put ourselves in a position to win again.”
Tipoff between the Bears and the preseason Ivy League favorite Bulldogs is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday in Providence.