Saturday, December 31, 2011

True Test Awaits Saturday as 24/23 Crimson Faces SJU

What: 24/23 Harvard Crimson (11-1) vs. Saint Joseph's Hawks (10-3)
Where: Lavietes Pavilion, Allston, Massachusetts
When: Saturday, December 31st at 4:00 PM (Pregame at 3:45)
How: Streaming Audio and Video live on

What may well be the toughest remaining test of the regular season awaits the Harvard Crimson men's basketball team tomorrow. The Saint Joseph's Hawks ride are riding a five-game win streak up to Cambridge that, perhaps appropriately, began nearly a month ago, as the Hawks downed the Boston University Terriers 75-68 at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia three days before the Crimson would do the same, 67-46, at BU's Agganis Arena. Included in Saint Joe's five-game streak is the program's marquee win, an 80-71 upset of 19/17 Creighton on December 10th. Explosive junior guard Carl Jones led the Hawks, putting up 29 points in the contest (20 of which came in the second half) and going 9 for 17 from the field and 10-11 from the charity stripe. Jones, who leads all Hawks scorers averaging 18.5 points per game, had his best outing of the year against Seton Hall (12-2, 1-1 Big East) in the Charleston Classic. Although the Hawks lost 78-70, Jones scored 38, going 12 of 17 from the field, 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, and 10 of 11 from the line.

That being said, Saint Joe's is a team that can win in many ways. The Hawks are second in the A10 in shooting percentage, on average making 48.5% of their shots in a given contest. Both Ronald Roberts and CJ Aiken are talented players down low; Aiken accounted for three spectacular dunks in the Hawks win over Villanova, and is a frequent target for those types of flashy interior plays. Aiken is also tied for second in the nation in blocks per game, rejecting an average of 4.3 per contest.

Even so, for the Crimson defense, the most important factor will be to limit the opportunities--particularly easy ones--for Hawks guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway. The duo have accounted for 46% of Hawks scoring this year, and both are skilled shooters from long range (Langston averages 49.3% from 3) and closer to the basket. Expect Brandyn Curry--probably the Crimson's best defensive guard--to play a big role.

The Hawks are also vulnerable on the road--while a perfect 7-0 at Hagan Arena, they are only 1-2 in unfriendly confines, having dropped a double-OT contest at Iona and a 66-60 game at American. Harvard, for its part, has won its last 20 games at Lavietes Pavilion, and will benefit from a sold-out home crowd.

Pregame coverage will begin live on at 3:45 with Scott Reed and Charlie Hobbs at Lavietes Pavilion. Tipoff is at 4:00.

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