Columbia releases its Early Decision notifications on December 11th but we’d be remiss not to write about the Lions’ near-upset of the University of Kentucky tonight in men’s basketball action! Perhaps inspired by Yale University’s upset of defending National Champion University of Connecticut, the roaring Lions held a halftime lead over the #1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats tonight in a matchup of David vs. Goliath. That’s right, Columbia had a lead on Kentucky…and on the road in the house that Adolph Rupp built! The Air Force football coach recently made comments that the new playoff system in college football is un-American because teams from lesser known conferences — like Air Force — don’t have equal opportunity to compete. We couldn’t agree more with the Air Force coach and Yale’s victory the other day over UConn coupled with Columbia’s near-upset of Kentucky speak to the fact that a team from any league — on any given day — can stun the world. After all, it’s kind of the story of what America is all about, as the Air Force coach so eloquently points out.
Anyhow, back to the Columbia game. According to an article on the basketball game in “The Columbia Daily Spectator,” “In one of the college basketball’s biggest surprises this season, Columbia men’s basketball gave Kentucky all it could handle for nearly 29 minutes, but couldn’t keep it up, falling 56-46 to the No. 1 Wildcats. The Lions (5-3) stunned the 22,000-plus fans at Rupp Arena, jumping out to an 11-0 lead—Kentucky’s largest deficit of the season—by hitting their shots and limiting last year’s national runner-up’s prowess on the offensive glass. It took more than five minutes before a three-point play by guard Andrew Harrison got the No. 1 Wildcats (10-0) on the board.”
The article goes on to say, “The Light Blue stayed ahead for the entire half, getting back in transition and consistently using most of the shot clock, something which the Wildcats said prevented them from getting into a rhythm at either end of the floor. Toward the end of the half, the Wildcats managed to get into the open court a little, cutting the Lions’ lead to just one point. But after the teams exchanged misses, a three by junior guard Maodo Lo put Columbia back up by four, and the Lions carried a 25-23 lead into the break. Kentucky head coach John Calipari noted after the game that, more than anything else, Columbia’s persistence in the post caught the Wildcats off-guard.” High praise indeed from one of college basketball’s all-time greatest coaches.
Ivy Coach salutes the Columbia University men’s basketball team for leading Kentucky through one half of basketball action in enemy territory. You showed the world that your team can hang with anyone. Just as your alumnus and our dear, late friend Cliff Montgomery showed the world when he led your Lions to Rose Bowl victory in 1934.