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Princeton 67 Columbia 52.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson:

Postgame audio - Kareem Maddox & Douglas Davis:

Princeton coach Sydney Johnson couldn’t wait for a question about if winning at Columbia for the first time in five years was important for his seniors to finish. He knew the answer and did not hesitate to speak.

“Absolutely,” Johnson interjected. “We talked about that before the game. There’s no question,” he emphasized.

“[The seniors] got their first win at Columbia. It was absolutely very, very important for us to try to get a win here coming off of the disappointment of last night [at Cornell] for our seniors and for our program. We feel pretty good.”

To win for the seniors and bounce right back from a bitter loss in Ithaca, three Tiger underclassmen had to turn in big performances.

Junior forward Kareem Maddox scored a career high 17 and matched his career best with 10 rebounds.

Maddox was joined in double figures by fellow junior Dan Mavraides, who had a game high 22 on 7-9 shooting. Sophomore Douglas Davis hit four times behind the arc on his way to 14.

Davis was first onto the court after Princeton’s arrived at Levien Gym over an hour before tipoff, spending extra time working with a Tiger assistant who made a few jump shots in his day, Brian Earl.

“I got off the bus and I was sluggish,” Davis admitted. “I just wanted to get in the gym, get up some shots as soon as I could. It helped me tonight.”

The Tigers trailed 14-7 after a sloppy start, but a 12-0 run midway through the first half turned a five point deficit into a seven point lead.

Princeton opened the second half on a 16-4 spurt and held off a late Lion push.

The Tigers shot 23-44 from the floor (52.3%), 7-16 from behind the arc (43.8%) and 14-18 at the free throw line (77.8%).

Niko Scott scored 12 for Columbia in his final home game. Sophomore sharpshooter Noruwa Agho was bothered into 3-15 shooting by Maddox and Mavraides, finishing with nine.

Maddox and Mavraides did a fine job leaping above screens and chasing this pair on curl patterns to the perimeter.

“They’re going to score sometimes, and we just have to stick to our scouting report,” said Maddox of his team’s attentiveness to Scott and Agho. “Do what the coaches tell us and make adjustments throughout the game.”

Columbia won the opening tip and like Cornell did on Friday, immediately went inside to their 7'0" center, guarded by Pawel Buczak. Max Craig is no Jeff Foote. Instead of a foul and two free throws, Craig was wild inside over the rim and Marcus Schroeder rebounded.

Buczak hit a cutting Mavraides for two to open the scoring before Kevin Bulger connected on a runner from the free throw line with the shot clock down to three.

Passing up a feed to a cutting Davis, Buczak popped an honest jumper from the right elbow to make it 4-2. Agho caught and shot a long deuce off a Bulger feed before Mavraides went one better, launching a deep three to give the Tigers a three point advantage.

Over the next five minutes, not much went right for Princeton. Balls were bobbled. Passes were mishandled or misdirected. Columbia was able to run off 10 straight.

It began when Craig rolled in a dropstep over Buczak, whistled for his second foul.

Buczak was replaced by Finley and a pass from Davis to Finley inside went off Finley's hands and onto the baseline.

Davis had a steal and was short on his drive. Agho banked in close to give the Lions their first lead.

Following a Princeton shot clock violation as Mavraides dribbled too long and fed the Tiger least likely to try a jump shot - Finley - far from the rim with time about to run out, Scott rose up over Mavraides for three.

Finley and Mark Cisco went up for a Agho miss and the ball popped out of Finley's hands, into the air and into the basket to finish this spurt.

Columbia got the ball back with 12:06 left in the half when Finley tried to find Maddox with a pass and the Lions pounced on the loose ball and called time.

Agho got two baskets early, but began to get frustrated when he could not find similar opportunities the rest of the half. He tried to size up a deep three over Mavraides but came up short.

Maddox drove left into traffic and was fouled by Matt Johnson, making both attempts.

The Tigers extended their defense a hair, which forced Columbia away from their strengths. Ian Hummer raced in front of a poor Johnson cross-court pass, which allowed Mavraides to blast baseline for a layup.

Hummer nearly picked off a second pass on a cross-court bounce, but the ball threaded two Tigers. Columbia's possession ended with a Cisco illegal screen as Maddox tried to chase Agho through the moving Cisco.

The Tigers remained out of sync on offense, but their defense was carrying the night.

Finley's pass to Maddox was off, but Maddox took the ball back with a steal of Scott and was fouled by Scott on his way to the iron.

The Lions went zone and Patrick Saunders overloaded the free throw line, passing across to Mavraides on the right wing for a three that did not connect.

Maddox was nearly able to jump a passing lane, tipping the ball out of bounds. Brian Grimes' long jumper, his only basket of the game, made it 16-11 Columbia with 9:15 to play.

A deep Mavraides three on the left wing cut the lead to two.

Maddox stepped in front of a lob pass by Scott and controlled.

Princeton's next possession ended in unreal fashion. Marcus Schroeder drove the lane and spotted Maddox trailing the play from the wing. Schroeder drew the defense with him, allowing Maddox the running start for a one-handed slam in the center of the lane that transcended hyperbole into the sweetest dunk I can think of seeing from a Princeton player.


Name a better dunk in the comments.

"That's something Marcus does in practice a lot," said Maddox, who clearly enjoyed both the play itself and how it silenced the Columbia students. "It is kind of ingrained in all of the big guys on the team - when Schroeder drives, cut and he's going to find you."

Grimes couldn't match his prior effort and Schroeder pulled up off the dribble on the left side to push Princeton back in front, his only bucket of the night.

Cisco's jump hook was off and Maddox leapt high to tip the ball to himself.

Saunders found Davis on the left wing for three.

The Tigers continued to lock in on Agho, who tried and failed on a long two over Mavraides.

Maddox could not finish with a high degree of difficulty inside and Finley was in the right place to tip home a follow. Columbia called time after 12 straight from Princeton, trailing 23-16.

Finley picked up his second personal trying to poke the ball loose from behind Craig, replaced by Buczak.

Craig somehow got loose inside for an easy bank to end the Tiger run.

Leading by five, a Davis jumper late in the shot clock appeared to nick the back of the cylinder and deflect to the right, but the officials initially called a violation after Maddox rebounded.

Play stopped for a huddle of the officiating crew, who pointed in Columbia's direction and ruled it was Lion ball.

Asking for an explanation, Johnson received a lengthy one from the head official, who listened to Johnson's rationale for why the shot clock should have reset. After this discussion, something in the conversation changed the ref's mind. The officials reconvened and overruled their original decision. The ball would stay with the Tigers.

"I thought that the referees were tremendous in terms of their dialogue," Johnson said when asked about this conversation. "I just can't tell you how competitive of a game it is. Just to get some dialogue goes a long way. I think we're all grownups. We know when someone is listening and when they're not. Just to be listened to is half the battle. You're not going to agree with every single call, but just to be listened to goes a long way. I appreciated their effort."

Davis was open on the left wing but his jumper came up short.

Mavraides leapt a Scott passing lane on the wing, appeared surprised he had kept the ball in play, regained his composure and raced down the floor for a layup.

Davis hit from the left wing off a Mavraides assist and it was 28-18 with 2:32 to go.

Princeton did not finish the first half strong and Columbia was able to smooth this edge to single digits.

Agho was wild and Princeton pushed the ball five-on-four with Mavraides' open right wing jumper off target.

Bulger cut in front of a pass by Saunders intended for Davis and tried to make a leaping save, crashing over press row, over the WPRB student broadcast position and momentarily disappearing behind the table.

Buczak was rightfully whistled for his third foul setting an illegal screen.

John Daniels missed the front end of a one-and-one, allowing Princeton to hold for the final shot of the half. Hummer surprised his teammates by trying to rifle a jump pass to no one with eleven seconds left that zipped sharply out of bounds.

Now Columbia could hold for the final play. Agho's three bounded long and Daniels put the ball home from the other side of the paint. The consensus on press row was that the follow came after time had expired, but this did not stop the far referee from saying the bucket counted. The Tigers led 28-20 at the break.

Mavraides' 12 outpaced all scorers in the first half. Maddox's only bucket was his obscene dunk, but he added six rebounds - three offensive.

Scott and Agho were a combined 3-11 in the first twenty minutes. Scott also had four turnovers.

Craig scored over Finley to start the second half and Columbia was down six.

Finley missed Saunders on a cut, then could not thread a bounce pass to a cutting Davis.

At the other end Davis took a charge from a driving Bulger to give the ball back to the Tigers.

Scott's arm became a human jai alai xistera. Schroeder tried to hook a pass over Scott to Saunders, but with one curled arm Scott grabbed the pass out of the air, stuck it to his hand and raced the other way. Scott could not finish the play and no further damage was done.

Schroeder found Davis with the shot clock at three for his 56th triple of the season to take the lead back up to nine.

Bulger showed a light touch over Davis in the lane and Mavraides was the fortunate recipient of a terribly late whistle for a blocking foul on Craig, making both unexpected free throws.

Up nine after the first media time out of the second half, Princeton took control. Mavraides ran a curl of his own, then passed to Davis open on the opposite wing for three. A deep hook by Cisco rolled off and Maddox drove left, spun right, squared in the air and converted a short jumper.

Following a Agho fadeaway that Schroeder forced, Maddox followed his own miss.

Maddox froze in the air for a push that extended the Tiger lead to the palindromic 42-24.

"It is real good having Kareem on the court," said Davis of his teammate. "He gives us a presence inside that is crazy. He can jump so high and he is so athletic - it throws a lot of teams off because they're not expecting that."

"He's clearly helped us. He's made those strides that we saw in him as a freshman and a sophomore," Johnson added about Maddox. "He's kept it simple - helped us defensively. Helped us offensively. I'm just happy for him that he's getting some nice results."

Saunders beat Zack Crimmins backdoor and laid home a pass from Buczak. Up 18, Princeton began to play like there were two minutes left in the game instead of the 12:05 actually on the clock.

With Will Barrett in for the first time and Ian Hummer replacing Patrick Saunders and Douglas Davis, the Tigers became less attentive.

A Scott three over the extended arm of Buczak drew Columbia within 44-29. Steve Egee stole the ball from Hummer and was fouled on the break, making one of two. Out came Barrett and Hummer. In came Mavraides driving the left baseline and switching hands in the air.

Craig went glass before Finley sailed right past him for an easy reverse.

A Finley screen freed Mavraides for a deep three on the right wing that made it 51-32.

The Tiger defense again went from business to casual, but Columbia could not initially get enough stops. Agho arced a three to draw within 16 after a pass from Saunders hit Finley in the backside.

Maddox crouched low with the ball, dribbled to his left and sprung high over Daniels for the three point play.

Bulger drove and was fouled by Davis for three points of his own.

Maddox sealed off his man, took a Schroeder entry and turned for the easy score.

Mavraides fouled Scott trying a triple from the right wing and Scott made all three free throws.

Hummer, back in for Saunders, got good position but could not finish inside. Bulger drove and was held by Mavraides, making both free throws for a 56-43 count. A lead pass by Mavraides to Schroeder on the inbounds sailed to Bulger and Schroeder fouled a driving Agho with his leg. Agho made both at the line.

Zach Finley split a pair and after an offensive board by Daniels, Scott drew Columbia within single digits for the first time since 33-24 with a three. Scott initially got Schroeder in the air, but Schroeder was able to stay with the play as Scott fired.

With less than three minutes remaining, Columbia began to try and extend the game by fouling Princeton. Davis made a pair to bump the lead back to 11.

Bulger couldn't finish a runner and Hummer skied for the rebound.

Schroeder split a pair at the line, missing for just the third time all season.

Brian Barbour's reverse made it a 60-50 score and Columbia immediately stole a second Mavraides pass in the backcourt. Agho was wild and Maddox controlled.

Down by 10, the PA at Levien Gymnasium began to pipe in a pre-recorded chant of "de-fense! de-fense!" to try and inspire the crowd.

Princeton was not phased. Instead of slowly moving the ball forward, Maddox went over the top of the Columbia pressure and Mavraides penetrated the lane diagonally, leaving the ball to Saunders who paused as the defense raced past him and laid the ball in while fouled. Saunders, a perfect 10-10 from the stripe in 2009-10, missed his first free throw of the year.

A wild Bulger drive made it 62-52 with 1:57 remaining, but Princeton was 5-6 from the line in the last 96 seconds to secure the win.

With the ball, the lead and the result secure, Johnson instructed Davis not to shoot as Princeton ran time off the clock with less than 30 seconds to go. Johnson wanted play to stop one more time and an intentional shot clock violation was the best way to assure he could insert senior co-captain Nick Lake into the game.

Lake replaced fellow co-captain Schroeder, who received a rub of the neck from Director of Basketball Operations Martin Bahar and a warm embrace from his head coach.

A steal by Lake in the far corner capped off a night in New York City unlike any Princeton's class of 2010 had experienced previously.

"We stayed true to what has gotten us here," Johnson said of his team's performance as they fought through some rough patches early. "Good defense and sound offensive possessions."

Asked about the way his team was able to carry over the intensity of Friday night into the Columbia game, Johnson deflected the praise.

"I take no credit for that whatsoever," he said. "I thought that our team showed a tremendous amount of maturity."


-Columbia shot 19-49 from the floor (38.8%), 4-10 from three (40.0%) and 10-12 at the line (83.3%).

-Princeton outrebounded the Lions 35-20.

-Marcus Schroeder had a game-best five assists, giving him 281 in his career and moving him past Sydney Johnson (280) and into fifth place all time at Princeton.

-In the two games against the Tigers, Agho was 7-32 (21.9%) from the floor.

-Happy birthday to Princeton assistant coach Scott Greenman.

James Moore said,

February 27, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

Despite a sloppy start and finish, the Tigers showed great composure after last night's heart wrenching loss. Maddox was terrific all night and provided the low post stalwart the Tigers needed with Finley and Buczak hindered by foul trouble. Mavraides continues to impress as well. Great play (esp. on defending Agho as Jon noted) all around earned a tough, road win against a Columbia team that was desperate to send its seniors off with a win. It's hard not to look ahead to the Harvard game next Saturday night. That should be a good one.

Fred Smagorinsky said,

February 28, 2010 @ 7:56 am

That was a fun game to watch. I thought Princeton looked in control for most of the game, unlike when Columbia visited Jadwin and the Lions had the upper hand deep into the second half.

I wonder if Kareem will play the 5 spot next year? If so I bet Princeton will win a few more opening tips!

I watched on the Columbia video feed and their announcers, who were very good, said that on the disputed call the refs came over to Johnson and explained that it was an inadvertent whistle and not a shot-clock violation and that since Columbia got the rebound they would retain possession. The announcers said Coach J, arms waving, told the officials that Maddox actually got the rebound and that they then looked at each other like Abbot and Costello! Nice to see they can reverse an obviously wrong call against the home team.

Your stats on Agho made me think back to all of the other games where Princeton has frustrated other top Ivy scorers - Lin (6-16), Zampier (7-23), Dale (1-12), Wittman (8-23). Their defense really has been outstanding this year. And it is interesting to note when Princeton's main scoring options, Davis and Mavraides, are defended well, they are more likely to shoot less and not keep firing away.

Rodney Johnson said,

February 28, 2010 @ 8:45 am

Very nice win for the Tigers.

Sydney Johnson has clearly established himself as the best coach in the Ivies, and I can only pray he stays at Princeton for the long haul.

I was traveling yesterday, and could not comment on the technical foul call. Given that it was his first technical in three years, I can only conclude that it was absolutely necessary for him to defend his players against bad calls. In the few games I have personally attended, I think he has bent over backwards not to badger the referees when calls were consistently going the wrong way.

Jon, the article you linked the other day regarding Chris Mooney was most enlightening. It sounds like the year Mooney spent under Joe Scott resulted in (or at least reinforced) an angry demeanor on the sidelines, which he was able to shed after he realized it was harming his relationship with the players and refs. I was so happy that Coach J came to Princeton with a calm and nurturing demeanor. His comments regarding his players and the players comments regarding him, all bespeak a man who truly wants to win, but even more wants his players to grow and do well in life. Go Tiger!

Rodney Johnson said,

February 28, 2010 @ 8:50 am

Jon-regarding the best dunk comment, I am sorry I did not get to witness a dunk that sounds like it should be on Sports Center.

The only other memorable dunks(s) I can cite, are the several that Will Venable executed at Cameron, after being taunted in warm-ups by the Dukies that "you can't dunk".

Stuart Schulman said,

February 28, 2010 @ 9:33 am

I could not attend and so cannot compare Maddox's slam. How did it compare to some of Chris Young's alley-oop masterpieces?

Jon Solomon said,

February 28, 2010 @ 9:55 am


Venable's dunks were the result of brute strength, but Maddox's flush was the result of a perfect storm of acceleration, spring and force.

The running start as Schroeder cleared the lane really created a runway for Maddox to launch from.

I'll see about trying to get a tape of this encoded.


Randy Bergmann said,

February 28, 2010 @ 11:55 am

Jon, who do you think will be playing center for Princeton next year?

larry said,

February 28, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

Best dunk ever: If my memory serves me right - 1991, Loyola Marymount, CBS game, Jadwin Gym was SRO, the PA man was calling for people to 'clear the stairways'. We are headed for the tournament and the fans are in March Madness form. We win the opening tap, score on a text book back door cut. The crowd goes wild. Loyola ho-hums the inbound pass, we steal it, ball goes to Eastwick - slam dunk. An electric bolt. The gym shook. 4, nothing. Loyola never recovered. I hope I'm recalling this with my brain and not my heart.

Jon Solomon said,

February 28, 2010 @ 8:31 pm


Good question - one I feel weird answering while the current season is still underway!

Maddox strikes me as more of a forward with the ability to shut down shorter guards. He would not be well-served as center. However, Coach Johnson looks like he may be moving away from having a traditional big man on the floor at all times just to have a traditional big man on the floor at all times.

Similarly, although he's 6'10" Will Barrett is not a center. He's more of a small forward if you're going off conventional labels.

Ian Hummer has shown he can guard bigs and use his speed to get by bigger foes. I think his future is in guarding/posting the paint. Of the current players, he would be my answer to your question.

I'm curious to see what fellow freshman Brendan Connolly, who has great hands and good size, can do next season. He's looked competent when he's played this year but there haven't been many minutes available with Hummer, Finley and Buczak in the mix.


Randy Bergmann said,

February 28, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

Thanks for your answer Jon. I tend to agree with your assessment. But I'm wondering why Coach Johnson didn't go after a more traditional center in his new recruiting class - unless, of course, he felt he had one in Connolly. Hummer is terrific in the post, but on defense you would think Princeton would want more size in the middle, particularly if it wants to upgrade its nonconference schedule next year, which I hope it will.

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