Fresh off a comfortable win over Army, the men’s basketball team (5-4) can make it two in a row when it visits Bucknell (4-4) on Saturday.
Columbia pulled ahead by double figures in the first half on Wednesday against Army. Despite a terrific shooting performance from the Black Knights in the second half, the Lions managed to maintain a comfortable lead, winning 81-64.
A big reason for the win was the Light Blue’s own strong shooting performance. The Lions made 15 of 26 field goal attempts in the second half, including going 7-for-12 from beyond the arc.
Lions head coach Kyle Smith said after the game that the team will need to continue to make its shots in a “tough environment” at Bucknell’s Sojka Pavilion—especially since the Bison prioritize limiting opponents’ looks from beyond the arc, unlike Army. But he also thinks the team will continue to shoot well.
“We’ve shot it well for the first nine games of the year,” he said.
The Bison have had a mixed season so far. Three of their first four games came against teams ranked in the top 70 in points per posession, according to statistician Ken Pomeroy. Bucknell, in the top 100 itself, was able to knock off Penn State while suffering two-possession losses to Stanford and St. John’s.
Bucknell hasn’t played as well as of late, though, putting together some performances against inferior teams that were far from impressive, including a 13-point loss to Princeton.
“One thing I think we need to do better at … is coming out better in road games, right at the start, and throwing the first punch,” sophomore guard Grant Mullins, who scored 28 points on Wednesday, said. He contrasted playing on the road to playing at home, where the team is able to draw energy from the crowd.
Last season, the Bison beat the Lions 65-57 at Levien. Despite falling behind by 17 early in the game, Bison center Mike Muscala, who scored 29 points and added 19 rebounds, was able to get each of the Lions’ main frontcourt options into serious foul trouble. That paid off eventually, as the Bison went on a 28-11 second-half run to pull ahead and prevail.
“Should be a really good college basketball game and a really good challenge for us,” Smith said.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Lewisburg, Penn.