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Harvard looks to snap 'baffling' losing streak at Princeton

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  February 22, 2014 04:47 PM

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When Harvard coach Tommy Amaker counts up all the losses the Crimson have taken at Princeton, all he can do is scratch his head.

Going back to 1985, the Crimson have dropped 24 straight to the Tigers.

"It’s baffling,” Amamker said.

Trying to put a finger on exactly what the jinx is for the Crimson at Jadwin Gymnasium isn’t easy.

"I’m sure, being that it’s been forever since we’ve won there, I’m sure we can point to a lot of things,” Amaker said.

Which is why, even after thumping Penn Friday for their third straight win and setting up a chance to sweep Penn and Princeton for the first time in Harvard’s 103-year hoops history, Amaker didn’t want to jump the gun going into Princeton Saturday night.

After taking the first three games from the two teams that have historically been the gold standard in the Ivy, Amaker was asked what it meant for a Harvard program that’s taken the mantle in recent years. Knowing the Crimson's toughest game was still ahead of them, he chose to save his answer.

“I’d like to think that maybe after tomorrow night I could answer that question even better,” Amaker said. “But I do recognize the greatness of those two teams and the history of this program and they should be applauded for it.”

Going into the weekend, the Crimson were as aware of their losing streak at Princeton as anyone. But as they push through a stretch of four straight road games, they figured it was best not to get ahead of themselves. Sweeping the Penn-Princeton roadie was hard enough.

“It’s easy to look ahead to that game and slip up,” senior guard Brandyn Curry said after the Penn win.

But once Penn was out of the way, its was clear how much winning at Jadwin meant to Harvard.

In Curry’s time at Harvard, he’s swallowed three single-digit losses.

"This is a huge weekend, man,” Curry said. "Us, the seniors on this team, nobody’s ever won at Jadwin before. I know the history where Harvard’s never swept. But not even sweeping, we’ve just never won at Jadwin at all. So more than anything, we want that really bad."

Coming off a 10-point win over Dartmouth, Princeton’s sitting fifth in the Ivy. Its 72.9 points a game is a hair ahead of Harvard for the best in the league. The two teams are also neck and neck in shooting percentage (Harvard 45.8, Princeton 45.6) and they’re among just three teams in the Ivy with a positive turnover margin.

Last month, it took a 24-point, nine-rebound, seven-assist, 3-steal night from Wesley Saunders for the Crimson to hold off the Tigers 82-76.

Amaker doesn’t expect it to be an easier Saturday. History’s taught him better.

"They’ve had very good teams,” Amaker said. "It’s just weird that it’s been that way in terms of us going in there, but they’ve been very good as well."

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