The men’s basketball team began a home stand this past weekend, hosting two games against conference foes – the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis. Entering this past weekend with a 3-4 record in the University Athletic Association, the Yellowjackets came away with two solid victories to improve their conference record to 5-4 and their overall record to 14-6.

Thanks in part to solid games from sophomores Uche Ndubizu and Jeff Juron, the Yellowjackets are now tied for third place in the UAA with Washington and Brandeis University. UR trails only Carnegie Mellon University (7-2) and New York University (6-3) in the league.

Friday’s game was a rematch between UR and Chicago. When the two last met on Jan. 29, Chicago shot an impressive 65 percent from the floor, beating the Yellowjackets 76-47. UR was determined to avoid being swept in the season series – the big men of the team stepped up in the paint, making the team’s presence felt.

Juron and sophomore Jon Onyiriuka scored 12 points each, while Ndubizu chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds as the Yellowjackets won 60-49. UR had a poor night from behind the arc, but made up for it by dominating down low with a 30-6 advantage in points in the paint and pulling down eight more rebounds than their opponents.

Although it was a close game at the half, the Yellowjackets clamped down defensively to seal the win. They held Chicago to only 27 percent shooting in the second half and 31.5 percent for the game.

Chicago closed to within 48-44 with 3:50 left, but clutch free throws allowed the Yellowjackets to put the game away. As a team, UR sank eight of 10 from the free throw line in the final two minutes of the game. Chicago fell to 4-4 in the UAA and 11-8 overall.

The game on Sunday afternoon against the Bears turned out to be a career-making night for junior Tim Brackney. Brackney scored 10 of his career high 15 points during a key 16-4 UR run in the second half as the Yellowjackets improved their record with a 65-55 win. Ndubizu and Juron both contributed 12 points for the Yellowjackets.

Once again the theme was defense for the Yellowjackets, holding their second straight opponent to under 40 percent shooting. For the game, Washington made just 37 percent of their shots.

The Bears closed the gap to four points, 38-34, with 12:09 left in the second half but the Yellowjackets were able to capitalize on turnovers and held on for the big win. UR’s stifling defense held Washington to zero fast break points.

The Yellowjackets will finish their home stand next week with big games against Brandeis and NYU next Friday and Sunday, respectively.

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