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Home-court advantage continues to hold true for the No. 25 Harvard men’s basketball team. The Crimson (10-1) extended its winning streak at Lavietes Pavilion to 20 games Thursday night, taking down Florida Atlantic (4-8), 63-51.
The run is the longest in program history and dates back to the 2009-2010 season, when Harvard fell at home to that year’s eventual Ivy League champion, Cornell, on Feb. 19, 2010.
With the win against the Owls, the Crimson improved to a perfect 3-0 at home so far this season.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Although Harvard eventually took the contest by a comfortable 12-point margin, the game featured eight lead changes and five ties, as key turnovers and missed opportunities nearly derailed the Harvard team.
“I thought we had turnovers that were silly,” Crimson coach Tommy Amaker said. “It wasn’t like they were in a full-court press where they created the turnovers. I felt they didn’t pressure us [into turning the ball over.]”
In the first half, Harvard amassed 10 turnovers to FAU’s seven, although the Crimson capitalized on more of its extra chances with 11 points off of opposing giveaways.
Harvard’s 17 turnovers over the course of the game tied the team’s highest number this season. The Crimson gave away the ball as many times in its low-scoring upset of then-No. 22 Florida State at the Battle 4 Atlantis over Thanksgiving.
“We need to be tougher, stronger with the ball ... in particular in the backcourt,” Amaker said. “[Florida Atlantic guard Raymond Taylor] was in pretty much the whole game, and he’s going make you do a lot a lot of things you don’t want to do ... but I was disappointed in our handling back there.”
Although the game was tied at 17 after 10 minutes of play, Harvard outscored its opponent in the back end of the first half to enter the break up by six.
The second half also featured a late but decisive Harvard run. Despite being knotted at 45 with just over seven minutes to play, the Crimson overpowered the Owls in the final minutes of the game, as junior point guard Brandyn Curry started off an 18-6 final run with a pair of made free throws at 7:18. The advantage proved to be a lead the Crimson would not relinquish.
“[FAU is] a tough, physical, defensive team,” Curry said. “They came out trying to kick us in the mouth a little bit. It took us a little while to respond, a little bit longer than we would have liked.”
Although Harvard faced a 12-day interlude between its most recent contests due to reading period and exam week restrictions, the Crimson players maintained that preparation did not play a role in the slow start.
“Everybody is taking exams,” Curry said. “It’s not an excuse. We had really good practices leading up to [this game]. We have to come out and be ready to go. We know we’re getting everybody’s best stuff, but we have to come out better.”
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
While Harvard improved its impressive home record, FAU coach Mike Jarvis also found himself at home last night. A native of none other than Cambridge and former standout athlete at Rindge Technical High School, Jarvis returned to his hometown for tonight’s game.
Jarvis—who is currently in his fourth year at the helm of the Owls and 23rd season as a head coach of a Division 1 basketball program—coached at Harvard from 1973-1977, assisting then-coach Tom Sanders of Celtics fame.
After a long stretch of coaching in Massachusetts, Jarvis ventured south in 1990, first to St. Johns and eventually to FAU.
And after coaching his current team to a hard fought loss at the hands of the Crimson, the former Northeastern basketball and baseball standout had nothing but good things to say about the development of Harvard’s program.
“There are more black people in this building and here at Harvard than I’ve seen ever,” Jarvis said. “It’s wonderful to see all the Cambridge people. ... Harvard is reaching out to the community now, which they never did before.”
Although Thursday night’s contest marked the first time the Crimson and the Owls have met on the basketball court, Amaker and Jarvis have experience coaching against each other.
“I’ve coached against Mike before and have a great deal of respect for him,” Amaker said. “I’ve always looked up to him. He’s a great coach, as you all know, and I’ve always admired Mike and his family.”
—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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