Men’s Basketball Looks to Keep Streak Alive at Houston Dec. 23 on ESPN2

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot.
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot.
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Last Meeting
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Harvard vs. Houston
Friday, Dec. 23
8 p.m. ET
Hofheinz Pavilion
Tom Hart, Fran Fraschilla
Live Stats
Harvard (4-4, 0-0 Ivy League)
Houston (9-2, 0-0 America)
Harvard leads, 1-0
W, 84-63 (Nov. 25, 2014)
Harvard vs. Houston (PDF)

The Storyline
Winners of three-straight, Harvard men's basketball heads to the Lone Star State to take on Houston Friday, Dec. 23 at Hofheinz Pavilion. The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with Tom Hart and Fran Fraschilla on the call.  

What to Watch For
• The all-time winningest head coach in Harvard men's basketball history, Tommy Amaker returns to the Harvard sidelines for the 10th season. The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball has directed the Crimson to a period of unprecedented prosperity in the form of four NCAA tournament appearances (2012-15), five Ivy League championships (2011-15) and six 20-win seasons (2010-15). Amaker owns a 355-238 career record: 179-99 at Harvard, 108-84 at Michigan and 68-55 at Seton Hall.

• Harvard contains a mix of youth and experience for the 2016-17 season. Thirteen (13) of the 20-man roster are freshmen or sophomores. Three of the top five leading scorers are rookies, as Seth Towns and Bryce Aiken rank 1-2 with 13.9 and 12.4 points per game, respectively.

• The Crimson looks to return to the top of the Ivy League standings after five conference titles over the last six years.

• Rookies pace the squad in scoring (Seth Towns, 13.9 ppg), field goal percentage (Chris Lewis, 65.7), free throw percentage (Aiken, 94.1) and blocks per game (Lewis, 1.8). 

Last Time Out
Tommy Amaker, The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball, became the all-time winningest head coach of the Crimson as Harvard bested Boston College, 74-66, Dec. 7 at Conte Forum. 

Freshman Chris Lewis broke out for a career high 22 points, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor and adding five rebounds. Senior co-captain Siyani Chambers continued to see the floor well, dishing out 11 assists, adding four points and four rebounds. Freshmen Seth Towns and Bryce Aiken added 18 and 16 points, respectively, for Harvard.

Scouting Houston
Sitting at 9-2, Houston last defeated Liberty 77-54 Wednesday and are winners of three-straight. The Cougars are outscoring opponents at a 18.4 ppg clip, averaging 82.7 points through 11 games. Rob Gray ranks second in the American and No. 42 in the country with 20.5 points per game. Damyean Dotson sits second on the team with 15.5 points per game, adding a team-high 7.2 rebounds. 

In his third season with Houston, head coach Kelvin Sampson joined the Cougars after spending six seasons as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks (2008-11) and Houston Rockets (2011-14). A year ago, Sampson led the Cougars to 22 wins for only the 15th time in program history with a win over No. 12 SMU inside Hofheinz Pavilion. After a tremendous regular season, the Cougars earned their first bid to the NIT for the first time since 2006.

This will be the second-ever meeting between Harvard and Houston, after the Crimson took the first of the series, 84-63, on Nov. 25, 2014.

Creating a Winning Culture
Harvard has posted a 157-63 (.714) overall record since the start of the 2009-10 season, ranking as the 19th-highest win percentage in the country over the last six-plus seasons (as of games played Dec. 16).

Harvard has posted an 83-14 (.856) record at Lavietes Pavilion since the start of the 2009-10 season, representing the 18th highest home-court win percentage in the country over the last six-plus seasons (as of games played Dec. 16).

Getting Defensive
The Crimson ranks first in field goal percentage defense (40.8) and third in scoring defense (67.4) in the Ivy League. Harvard has held two opponents to under 40.0 percent shooting and two to under 60 points (2-0).

Under Tommy Amaker, Harvard has held six opponents to fewer than 40 points and seven opponents to less than 30.0 percent shooting.

Dropping Dimes
Harvard averages 17.1 assists per game in 2016-17, best in the Ivy League. Under Amaker, the Crimson posted its best assist average in 2009-10, with 15.4 helpers per game.

Senior captain Siyani Chambers leads the Ivy League with 7.9 helpers per game in 2016-17. Chambers ranks fourth in the country in helpers per game and No. 22 in assist-to-turnover ratio.

The inaugural Ivy League men's and women's basketball tournaments will take place Saturday and Sunday, March 11-12, 2017, at the Palestra in Philadelphia. The top four teams will earn berths in the tournament, with the semifinals on Saturday and the championships on Sunday. All six games will be broadcast live on ESPN's networks.

From Way Down Town
This season, Harvard has connected on five-plus 3-pointers seven times and made at least 10 treys twice. The Crimson averages 8.6 triples per game. Sophomore Corey Johnson ranks first in the league and No. 42 in the country with 3.0 triples per game.  

Harvard set a new program record with 220 3-pointers in 2015-16. Johnson led the team with 74 3-pointers, the third-most in program history and a new freshman record.

On the Glass
Through eight games, the Crimson ranks second in the Ivy League in rebounding margin (+2.0).

Protecting The Rim
Harvard has registered 4.8 blocked shots per game this year, best in the Ancient Eight.  

Nonconference Watch
Harvard has gone 95-57 in non-conference play under head coach Tommy Amaker, including eight-straight seasons with a .500 record or better in out-of-conference action. Harvard is 4-4 to start 2016-17. 

Harvard owns a 15-23 record against power conference opponents under Tommy Amaker. The Crimson defeated Boston College in six straight seasons from 2009-2014, again this season, and has also topped Auburn, California, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida State, Michigan, TCU and Utah.

Kings of Massachusetts Courts
Harvard is 32-14 overall against its in-state rivals under head coach Tommy Amaker, and owns a 25-7 record against Boston area schools with Amaker at the helm. Harvard will play four Division I schools from Massachusetts, and six overall, this year.

Detur Book Prize
Chris Egi was announced as a recipient of the Detur Book Prize, the oldest prize awarded by Harvard College, a year ago. The Detur Book Prize recognizes sophomores who attained very high academic standing in their first year at the College.

In The Spotlight
The Crimson has played on TV 84 times since 2010-11. Harvard is slated to 11 games on national or regional television in 2016-17.

Sold Out
Harvard played in front of a sold-out Lavietes Pavilion crowd seven times last season and a total of 36 times since 2010-11.

On The Sidelines
Head coach Tommy Amaker's 179 wins are the most at Harvard and the sixth-most in the Ivy League since the conference began competition in 1956. His 84 Ivy League victories, meanwhile, are tied for eighth place in conference history.

Amaker has led Harvard to five Ivy League championships, tying him with former Penn coach Bob Weinhauer (1977-82) for the third most titles in Ancient Eight history. 

Harvard Coach                                  Harvard Wins

1. Tommy Amaker, 2007-present..................... 179

2. Frank Sullivan, 1991-2007........................ 178

3. Floyd S. Wilson, 1954-68.......................... 143

4. Edward A. Wachter, 1920-33................... 120

5. Frank McLaughlin, 1977-85......................... 99 

Ivy Coach                                            Overall Wins

1. Pete Carril, Princeton 1967-96................ 514

4. Joe Vancisin, Yale 1956-75...................... 206

5. Jack Rohan, Columbia 1961-74, 1990-95 198

6. Tommy Amaker, 2007-present..................... 179

7. Frank Sullivan, 1991-2007........................ 178

Ivy Coach                                                   Ivy Wins

1. Pete Carril, Princeton 1967-96................ 310

7. Jack McCloskey, Penn 1956-66.................. 87

8. Tommy Amaker, Harvard 2007-present........ 84 

Going Pro
Harvard has been well represented in the professional ranks this season as six former Crimson continue their playing careers. 

Student-Athlete                           Professional Team

Kyle Casey '13-14...................................................

... Helios Suns Domzale (Slovenia) - 2015-present

Brandyn Curry '13-14.............................................

................. Helios Suns (Slovenia) – 2016-present

Evan Harris '09........................................................

............. Saitama Broncos (Japan) - 2015-present

Jeremy Lin '10........................................................

.................... Brooklyn Nets (NBA) - 2016-present

Wesley Saunders '15

. Windy City Bulls (NBA DLeague) - 2016-present

Keith Wright '12.....................................................

........................ Weschester Knicks (NBA DLeague) - 2016-present

FIBA U19 World Championships
Chris Egi, Corey Johnson and Weisner Perez represented their respective countries at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships in Greece.

Egi, who was appointed as a captain by his coaching staff, paired with Johnson to lift Team Canada to a fifth-place finish, the country's highest finish at the competition. Perez, meanwhile, helped the Dominican Republic finish 13th in its first appearance since 1983.

Beating The Odds
The Crimson is 4-11 against ranked opponents since 2008-09, marking the only four wins over ranked opponents in program history.


Date            Opponent                                 Score

1/7/09..... at No. 17 Boston College W, 82-70

11/25/11 vs. No. 20 Florida State W, 46-41

3/23/13.. vs. No. 10 New Mexico. W, 68-62

3/20/14.. vs. No. 15 Cincinnati.... W, 61-57

Margin of Victory
Under head coach Tommy Amaker, the Crimson has won 46 games by 20 or more points, 12 games by 30 or more points, and three games by 40 or more.

Comeback Kids
Harvard overcame a 21-point deficit with 9:02 remaining at Cornell on Feb. 20, 2016, marking the second-largest comeback by the Crimson under head coach Tommy Amaker and the 18th time that the team has overcome a double-digit hole.

Nail Biters
Harvard went 3-3 in games decided by three points or less last season and is 20-22 all-time in games decided by three points or less under head coach Tommy Amaker.

Extra Sessions
Under head coach Tommy Amaker, Harvard is 13-4 when going to overtime. This includes a 4-1 mark in double-overtime contests and a 1-0 record when needing three overtimes.

Chasing History
• Harvard won at least 20 games in six straight seasons from 2009-15, matching Penn (1969-75) for the longest streak of 20-win seasons in Ivy League history.

• The Crimson won five straight Ivy League championships from 2010-15, becoming just the second program in Ancient Eight history to win at least five successive titles (Penn 1970-75, 1978-82).

• The Crimson made four-straight NCAA tournament appearances from 2011-15, joining Princeton (1989-92) and Penn (1970-75) as just the third program in Ivy League history to represent the conference in the Big Dance in four successive years.

The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball
At halftime of the team's game versus Princeton on Feb. 21, 2015, Harvard Athletics announced the endowment of the department's   coaching position: The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball.

Made possible through the generosity of Thomas G. Stemberg '71, MBA'73, a long-standing Friend of Harvard Basketball and supporter of Harvard Athletics, this endowment serves as a commitment to the continued success of the men's basketball program. Stemberg's affiliation with Harvard spanned nearly 50 years, and he served as an honorary co-chair for the Friends of Harvard Basketball.

Linsanity: Harvard In The NBA
Jeremy Lin burst onto the national scene in February of 2012 after scoring 136 points in his first five NBA starts for the New York Knicks, the most for an NBA player since the merger with the ABA in 1976-77, and lifting the club into playoff position. Lin was rewarded for his spectacular play by appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in back-to-back weeks, winning the ESPY for "Best Breakthrough Athlete," and being named one of Time Magazine's "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World" for 2012.

Lin is entering his seventh NBA season, first with the Brooklyn Nets, after averaging 11.8 ppg, 4.4 apg and 2.8 rpg through his first six years.