The Yellowjackets confronted and overcame their biggest challenge yet to an undefeated season, scraping back from an eight point halftime trail to squeeze past Emory University, 75-72. Taking only a short rest before continuing to Cleveland to cruise 77-60 over Case Western Reserve University, the men’s basketball team returned to UR after a four day road trip tired, exhausted and glowing in the knowledge that they are very likely the best Division III basketball team in the nation. “Emory was our toughest game to date,” Head Coach Mike Neer said. “Emory flat out outplayed us in the first half. We were behind at halftime for the first time this season and it was clear that we needed buckets of baskets in order to stay in the game.” With a physical Emory team bearing down on UR’s strong in court positions, Neer took advantage of the open perimeter players to even out the score with three pointers. Junior guards Ryan Mee and Brendan McAllister made back-to-back three pointers in the last minute to take a 73-71 lead over the Eagles while sophomore guard Joe Canty kept the pressure on the Emory scorers. Senior forward Makedo Wisseh made a pair of free throws to give as insurance against a failed Emory desperation shot.”Emory played an emotional game,” Neer said. “Right now everyone wants a piece of us and Emory gave us their best shot. They are aggressive on the dribble and their big guys are a lot more mobile than ours.” The Yellowjackets were able to clip the Eagles by slowing down the opponent’s wheeling and dealing offense into the methodical tempo that has earned UR 16 wins so far this season. “Emory was hot, but they were unable to sustain themselves past half time,” Neer said. “We were able to slow the tempo down to the speed we wanted.”From balmy Atlanta, the Yellowjackets traveled to the shores of Lake Erie to take on another UAA rival, Case Western Reserve University. The Spartans put up a good fight for thirty minutes, trailing UR by only two points at the break. At one point with 15 minutes left to play, the home team had a leg up on the Yellowjackets 43-41. But when Case cooled down, Mee heated up, sinking six three-pointers en route to the 77-60 victory. “They [Case] sagged on us a lot, leaving Mee open to make some big shots,” Neer said. He noted that both Emory and Case kept a short leash on Seth Hauben, double teaming the junior forward. But while the foes kept a watch on Hauben, Mee, McAllister, others were able to take the opportunity to drop enough outside shots to keep the opposition running in circles.The Yellowjackets return home to the Palestra this Friday night to take on the Washington University in St. Louis Bears. The Bears have captured the UAA title the past two years and will be looking to take the UR upstarts down to size. With an aggressive offense and a seven footer off the bench, Wash U. will be the biggest test of the season. “I hope we get a great turnout,” Neer said. “With both the men’s and women’s teams ranked so high there is a pride in the student body that helps morale. It makes a big difference to us and we would love for them to turn out and help us stay in first place.”Schloss can be reached at aschloss@campustimes.org.



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