After opening the season in strong fashion, the UR men?s basketball team has struggled to be consistent in recent games.
The Yellowjackets finished a recent three game homestand with only one win and now head into the meat of their University Athletic Association season with a 10-6 overall record, 3-3 in the UAA.
UR took on Hobart College Jan. 16 at the Louis Alexander Palestra.
The squad dominated inside and shot the ball well, but play succumbed to a Hobart rally in the final minutes, giving Hobart a 71-69 victory.
Freshman forward Andy Larkin led the Yellowjac-kets with a career-high 25 points as he went 12-17 from the floor while junior forward Kyle Leach chipped in with 15 points and five assists.
?We shot the ball very well inside, out-rebounded them and we were up eight points with under seven minutes to play and still lost. Hobart has a solid team but this is a game we could and maybe should have won,? head coach Mike Neer said.
Friday, Jan. 19 the Yellowjackets hosted Car-negie Mellon University and controlled play from the opening tap. UR built a lead that grew to 34-20 in the first half and then weathered some sloppy second half play to hold on for a 63-49 victory.
Larkin and Leach led the way again. This time Leach scored a game-high 20 points, while Larkin chipped in with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
In addition, sophomore Jeff Joss contributed 13 points and four rebounds.
?Carnegie really put pressure on our guards but that just opened up the paint for our big people,? senior captain Jeff Larson said. ?I think we really exploited them inside with Andy and Kyle hitting some big shots for us.?
Emory University came to the Palestra on Sunday, Jan. 21 and forced UR to one of its lowest scoring halves ever under Neer.
The Yellowjackets made only four field goals in the entire half and were behind at the break by 20 points, 13-33.
Though UR came back to make it close in the second half, the large deficit proved too large to overcome and Emory walked away with a 70-56 win. Larkin led the Yellowjackets with 12 points and six rebounds, while Larson helped with 10 points. A highlight was the play of freshman big man Brian Jones. Jones scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and tied a school record with eight blocked shots.
Both coach Neer and Larson seemed to agree that this weekend?s upcoming road trip to the University of Chicago and Washington University are crucial to the remainder of the season.
?We are entering the toughest third of our season and these two teams are ranked nationally. Having said that we are excited to be playing them and feel that we are going to go in there and play good defense and compete,? Neer said.
Larson agreed. ?This is the crossroads of our season,? he said. ?These are the two best teams we will have seen all year and we feel that if we go in there and main-tain focus for the full 40 minutes than we have a chance.?