SAN FRANCISCO - The Columbia men's basketball team is spending the Thanksgiving holiday in the Bay Area for the University of San Francisco Hilltop Challenge. The Lions (3-1) will take on Wayland Baptist on Friday, November 24, at 9:00 p.m. and take on the Dons on Saturday, November 25, at 10:00 p.m. Both times are Eastern Standard Time.
Columbia pulled off a 75-57 victory over Villanova on Tuesday night to move to 3-1 on the season. The Lions held the Wildcats to 37.3 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers to earn their first win over a BIG EAST opponent since 1985. With a comfortable lead down the stretch, Columbia converted 18-of-18 attempts from the foul line to ice the win. Sophomore Alex Rosenberg led a steady cast of heroes with 21 points and six rebounds.
Wayland Baptist (4-3) saw its four-game win streak snapped on Tuesday night after falling to St. Thomas-Houston, 63-54. The Pioneers missed 13-of-22 from the foul line and committed 19 turnovers in the defeat. Reggie Fondren scored a team-high 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
USF improved to 2-1 overall with a 67-53 victory at American on Nov. 19. Cody Doolin scored nine points, dished out eight assists, and added four rebounds. The Dons built on a fast start, and overcame a first-half run by the Eagles. USF converted on 53.1 percent of their field goal attempts and outrebounded American, 28-19.
HISTORY NOTES - WAYLAND BAPTIST
This will be the first time the Lions and Pioneers meet. Wayland Baptist is an NAIA school located in Plainview, Texas. The Pioneers are affiliated with the Sooner Athletic Conference.
COLUMBIA AGAINST THE SAC
In addition, Columbia has never faced a team currently in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
HISTORY NOTES - SAN FRANCISCO
This will be just the second meeting all-time between the Lions and Dons. The squads have not faced off in nearly 20 years after playing in the Bay Area in January of 1992.
COLUMBIA AGAINST THE WCC
Against teams currently in the West Coast Conference, Columbia is 3-7. The Lions have faced San Diego and Santa Clara three times each, marking their most common WCC foes.
The Lions boast two players from the Bay Area in senior point guard Brian Barbour (Alamo, Calif.) and sophomore Noah Springwater (San Francisco, Calif).
BUCKING THE TREND
Columbia's win over Villanova was its first against a BIG EAST team since November 30, 1985, when the Lions
topped Seton Hall on the road, 85-65. It also marked just the second victory over Villanova since a 76-64 road triumph on Dec. 29, 1969, at the Spectrum.
Columbia is 2-0 on the road for the first time since 2005-06. That season, the Lions started 3-0 away from Levien Gym, knocking off LIU, Stony Brook, and Sacred Heart.
CLUTCH FOUL SHOOTING
In the second half of Columbia's victory over Villanova on Nov. 20, the Lions knocked down their last 21 free-throw attempts, including 18 in the final three-plus minutes to ice the game. Brian Barbour was 12-for-12, while Alex Rosenberg knocked down 11-for-14 in the game.
YOU CAN CALL ME AL
Sophomore Alex Rosenberg poured in a career-high 21 points against Villanova and has been a steady player for Columbia all season. He is averaging 12.5 points and a team-high 5.5 boards per game.
Another glaring stat against the Wildcats were the Lions' 12 steals. It marks the second time this season Columba has posted double-figure swipes.
MULLINS STEPS UP
Grant Mullins may be a first-year, but he showed the poise of a seasoned veteran, knocking down four three-pointers in the second half en route to a career-high 14 points at Villanova. Each of his treys seemed to come every time the Wildcats tried to make a run.
With 943 points coming into the Wayland Baptist game, Brian Barbour is poised to become just the 25th player in Columbia history to eclipse 1,000 career points in the next several contests.
Through four games this season, the Lions' bigger lineup and 2-3 zone defense has resulted in 4.5 blocks per game after averaging 2.3 in 2011-12. Sophomore Cory Osetkowski, senior Mark Cisco and first-year Zach En'Wezoh have combined for 17 of the team's 18 rejections.
Columbia started a season 2-0 for the first time since the 2005-06 season when they opened up 5-0. The Lions won their first two games by a combined 55 points, the largest spread to begin a year, dating all the way back to 1969-70 when they topped CCNY, 89-46, and Northwestern, 83 68.