Lions Look to Finish Strong vs. Yale, Brown on Final Weekend of the Men's Basketball Season
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics

NEW YORK – The Lions will finish the 2010-11 season at home, where Columbia has posted a 9-3 mark this season.  Columbia faces Yale on Friday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at Levien Gymnasium with a game against Brown on Saturday, March 5 at 7 p.m.  Columbia's four seniors will be honored in a brief ceremony prior to Saturday's game.

With one win, Columbia can clinch its third winning record in the last 28 seasons. The Lions are returning from two hard-fought games on the road at Penn and Princeton, where Columbia came up short in the end. Noruwa Agho averaged 20.5 points and Brian Barbour averaged 18.5 points during the weekend.

Meanwhile, Yale boasts a 7-5 Ivy League record and a similar 14-12 overall mark. The Bulldogs’ center Greg Mangano averages double figures in both points (16.1 ppg) and rebounds (10.0 rpg). Meanwhile, Brown has been boosted by the return of senior forward Peter Sullivan and recently defeated Dartmouth 100-76 on Saturday night after giving Harvard a scare the night before in a game the Crimson ultimately won, 74-68.

Tickets for the game are available online
, by calling 888-LIONS-11 or at the Dodge Fitness Center ticket office on game day. All Columbia undergraduate and graduate students are admitted free to Levien Gymnasium with Columbia ID.

Fans who can't make it to Levien Gym can catch all the action live on with Jerry Recco and Dalen Cuff '06 providing the call. Fans can follow Dalen on Twitter @DCuff21 throughout the games and during the weekend.

Live stats and game notes are also available.

Columbia will bid farewell to four senior frontcourt players this weekend as Asenso Ampim, Max Craig, Zack Crimmins and Brian Grimes will wear the Columbia uniform one last time in Levien Gym. Since the 2007-08 season, the group has been a part of 51 Columbia victories and 24 Ivy League wins. It is probably the tallest class to graduate in Columbia history, including a pair of seven-footers in Craig and Crimmins and two strong power forwards in Ampim and Grimes. As a group, the quartet has played in 232 games, scored 1,063 points and grabbed 866 rebounds in their career.

Columbia has a 9-3 record at Levien Gymnasium this season with two home games remaining this weekend. Columbia’s most wins at Levien Gym came in the 2006-07 season, when the Lions went 10-4. Columbia has won 12 of its last 16 games at Levien Gymnasium, dating back to the 2009-10 campaign.

In the latest NCAA rankings, Columbia is represented several times among the top 100 in the nation, out of the 336 Division I teams ranked. Sophomore guard Brian Barbour ranks third in the nation in free throw percentage at 91.8 percent and has a chance to own the Columbia single-season mark for free throw shooting.The NCAA stats listed below are through Feb. 27.

Category Rank Actual
Turnovers Per Game    97th 12.7
Free Throw Percentage   90th 71.8
Rebound Margin 56th +3.7

Category Player Rank   Actual
Free Throw Percentage   Brian Barbour   3rd 91.8
Assists Per Game Noruwa Agho 89th 4.4

One of Kyle Smith’s keys to this season was taking care of the basketball and Columbia has done that, committing fewer turnovers than its opponents this season. The Lions’ top two distributors – Noruwa Agho and Brian Barbour – both carry outstanding assist-to-turnover ratios while averaging more than three helpers per game.

Yale has won three straight games in the series with Columbia. Before the 2009-10 season, Columbia had won four of the previous six meetings with Yale, and has won two of the last three games played at Levien Gymnasium. The Lions lead the all-time series with the Bulldogs 122-97.

Columbia has won four of the last five meetings between the two teams, having swept the season series in 2008-09 and 2009-10, although Brown picked up the win in a game played earlier this seaosn in Providence. Columbia and Brown first met in 1901, Columbia’s first intercollegiate basketball season.

Columbia junior guard Noruwa Agho enters this weekend tied for the Ivy League scoring lead at 16.1 points per game, is fifth in assists at 4.4 per game and is ninth in rebounding at 4.9 per game. Agho recently topped the 1,000 point mark for his career and currently ranks 16th on Columbia’s all-time scoring list with 1,128 career points. He has been named Ivy League Player of the Week three times this season after earning the award three times during the 2009-10 season. Only a junior, Agho is one of five Columbia players ever to total more than 1,100 points, 300 rebounds and 200 assists in his career.

Player   Points Rebounds   Assists
Craig Austin   1998-2002   1,491   417 205
Gary Raimondo   1995-99 1,320 542 236
Heyward Dotson   1967-70 1,266 420 237
Sean Couch 1983-87 1,208 368 247
Noruwa Agho 2008-present    1,128 338 215

Columbia junior Noruwa Agho has been scoring at a prolific rate this season and ranks second on the squad in rebounding, all while being the team’s top playmaker. Agho has dished out 115 assists this season, which puts him in the top ten for a Columbia player in a single season.

1.   Alton Byrd   1976-77   210
2. Alton Byrd 1978-79 193
3. Mike Jelinsky   1989-90 153
4. Mike Jelinsky 1990-91 145
5. Elliot Wolfe 1970-71 140
6. Tony Chiles 1987-88 136
7. Dale Smith 1984-85 130
8. Alton Byrd 1977-78 123
9. Elliot Wolfe 1969-70 120
10.  Noruwa Agho 2010-11 115
10. Heyward Dotson   1967-68 115

Columbia sophomore guard Brian Barbour has been an offensive force this season, scoring in a big way while being the facilitator of the Lions’ offense. He is also getting it done on the defensive end, where he is among the Ivy League leaders in steals. He currently ranks tenth all-time on the Columbia single-season list.

1.  Sean Couch  1986-87   68
2. Gary Raimondo   1998-99 64
3. Gary Raimondo 1997-98 56
4. Sean Couch 1985-86 53
5. Gary Raimondo 1995-96 52
6. Jim Tubridy 1995-96 44
7. Tony Chiles 1987-88 43
8. Abe Yasser 1998-99 42
9. Matt Shannon 1987-88 41
10.  Brian Barbour 2010-11 40
10. C.J. Thompkins   1995-96 40

Columbia big men Mark Cisco and Asenso Ampim have dominated the offensive glass in a number of games this season. Cisco and Ampim are among the best in the Ivy League in offensive rebounds and their offensive rebound numbers this season stack up historically in the Columbia single-season annals.

1.   Jamal Adams   1993-94   78
2. Jason Miller 2008-09 74
3. Boris Piskun 1994-95 73
4. Jim Tubridy 1994-95 71
5. Marco McCottry   2002-03 70
6. Matt Preson 2004-05 66
7. John Baumann 2007-08 65
8. Matt Preston 2003-04 61
9. John Baumann 2005-06 60
10. Mark Cisco 2010-11 57
11. Asenso Ampim   2010-11   55

Sophomore guard Brian Barbour has emerged as one of the Ivy League’s top point guards in his first full season as a starter for the Lions. During the Ivy League slate, Barbour is averaging 14.9 points per game, which is tied for fifth in the league. Barbour also has made 94 percent from the free throw line during Ivy League play.

Senior forward Asenso Ampim has come on strong down the stretch for Columbia, averaging 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game during that span. Ampim has posted two double-doubles during that stretch and has been a beast on the glass all season. He recently grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds at Princeton on Feb. 26. For his career, Ampim ranks 25th all-time in rebounds (425) and seventh in offensive rebounds with 141. [Note: Offensive and defensive rebounds were not recorded separately until the 1990-91 season.]

Senior center Max Craig has come on strong recently in a starting role. Craig made a big impact in Columbia’s 75-62 win over Penn on February 12. He scored nine points on four-of-five shooting, and grabbed six rebounds in 18 minutes of action off the bench. During his two years at Columbia, Craig has started 20 times in 39 games and is shooting 49.6 percent from the floor.

Senior center Zack Crimmins stepped off the bench to provide a spark for the Lions in the second half of their game at Princeton on Feb. 26. Crimmins tied his season high with eight points, making all four of his shots from the field. During his career, Crimmins has played in 70 games, grabbed 140 rebounds and blocked 23 shots.

Senior forward Brian Grimes has been bedeviled by injuries during his Columbia career, but has persevered to establish himself as one of the league’s top rebounders when healthy. Grimes started 28 of the 39 games he has played in his career and has averaged 6.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in his two seasons on the court.

Junior guard Matt Johnson has given Columbia a lift off the bench in recent weeks. Against Dartmouth, Johnson canned two critical three-pointers and grabbed five rebounds to help the Lions to a 67-60 win at home on Feb. 18. Against Princeton on Feb. 26, Johnson chipped in with five points and saw crunch-time minutes down the stretch.

Columbia rookie guard Steve Frankoski has scored in double figures nine times this season and leads the team with 41 three-point field goals. In the win at Dartmouth on January 29, Frankoski had a strong game with 13 points on three three-pointers and a number of moves to the basket. He also added four rebounds, a blocked shot and two steals in a strong all-around game.

Sophomore center Mark Cisco had played well before suffering an injury midway through the first half of the Feb. 18 game vs. Dartmouth. Cisco is shooting 59.8 percent from the field, which would rank first in the Ivy League with the minimum amount of field goals. At Yale on Feb. 5, the 6-9 big man scored a career-high 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three blocked shots.

Despite missing the last seven games due to injury, sophomore forward John Daniels had come on strong in recent weeks. In Columbia’s 66-45 win at Dartmouth, Daniels had one of his best games of the season with seven points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Against Brown on Feb. 4, Daniels notched a season high with nine points in just 18 minutes.

Columbia holds a +3.7 margin in rebounding, the best in the Ivy League. The Lions average 36.2 rebounds per game to 32.5 rebounds per game for its opponents. Columbia has outrebounded its opponent 17 times this season and owns a 12-5 record when it has totaled more rebounds than the opposition.

When Columbia scores 70 or more points in a game, the Lions are 10-3. Columbia had scored more than 70 points just five times in the 2009-10 season.