Coming off a whirlwind weekend on the West Coast, the men's basketball team returns to action on Tuesday at home against American University.
The Lions (3-3) went 2-1 in Portland, Ore. this past weekend at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, improving to .500 on the season. American (1-3) has not been as successful in the early going, with its sole win coming at home on Nov. 14 against UMBC. Columbia prevailed in the teams' last meeting, 54-42.
Both teams' guards are likely to be featured prominently on Tuesday. Much like the Lions, the Eagles have relied on their backcourt to shoulder much of the scoring load this season. Their guard trio of Darius Gardner, Jesse Reed, and John Schoof holds the team's top three scoring spots, averaging 13.8, 13.2, and 11.2 points per game, respectively.
For Columbia, sophomore guards Maodo Lo and Grant Mullins rank as the Lions' top two scorers. But Lo—the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week—said he thinks some of the Light Blue's youngest players have shown a lot of promise as well, pointing especially to first-year forwards Luke Petrasek and Jeff Coby and first-year guard Kendall Jackson.
“I feel like the young guys are being integrated better and better into the team,” Lo said on Saturday. “People are finding their roles. Luke is playing very well. Kendall is giving us great minutes on the point guard position.”
“Jeff Coby—he gave us some good minutes in this trip,” Lo added.
Head coach Kyle Smith also praised Coby, Petrasek, and Jackson following the trip to Portland. Petrasek especially has stood out for the Lions thus far this season.
“Luke is kind of growing into a consistent starter,” Smith said following Saturday's 65-60 win over Idaho.
While Petrasek and Coby have given Columbia's vets a boost down low, American has had some problems in the post following the departure of forward Stephen Lumpkins, an All-Patriot League second-teamer who led the Eagles in points, rebounds, and blocks a year ago. With Lumpkins gone, American has been outrebounded by an average margin of 36.0-33.2.
The game will be the Lions' first at home in two weeks. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. in Levien Gymnasium.