This weekend, the University of Chicago men’s basketball team (16–8, 8–5 UAA) split games, losing to Brandeis (9–15, 4–9) but beating NYU (16–8, 7–6) in the last weekend of home games of the season.
From the start, the Maroons struggled to find their rhythm against the Judges. The team turned over the ball three out of their first four possessions, contributing to Brandeis’s 8–1 lead. However, Chicago fought back, sinking threes and pounding out points in the paint to try to even the score. Yet, the visiting team’s excellent shooting and tough defense allowed it to enter the second half with a 34–27 lead.
Nevertheless, early into the second half the South Siders were able to take the lead. Although unable to hold onto the lead, the Maroons kept the game close, usually within five points of their opponent. However, with three minutes to go, Brandeis went on a 16–4 run, largely due to its ability to convert on 11 of its 12 free throw opportunities down the stretch. Ultimately the game was lost 78–63.
“We needed to focus on playing together,” said first-year forward Collin Barthel. “It doesn’t matter how well anyone does individually when we need to play together. And we needed to do that on Friday.”
However on Sunday, the team played a very different kind of basketball, besting NYU on Senior Day by a score of 77–60.
“NYU is one of the most talented teams in the country,” said third-year forward Alex Voss. “They have a huge starting lineup and a potential All-American guard in Hakeem Harris. We really tried to focus on not letting the ball get thrown inside and when it did, double-teaming the post to make them kick it out. Otherwise we tried to keep the ball out of Harris’s hand.”
However, it wasn’t just spectacular team defense that allowed the Maroons to pull out the big win, but an impressive offensive showing as well. Right off the bat, Chicago jumped out to a 19–9 lead, and then turned that lead into a 30–16 advantage on the heels of great three-point shooting and post play.
In fact, whenever the Violets tried to get back into the game, the South Siders responded, as they controlled all of the offensive and defensive statistics. They shot better than NYU in every category, in addition to out-rebounding them and outfighting them for second chance points.
All of this bodes well for the Maroons, as the next game they play will be against No. 20 Washington University in St Louis.
“The team is looking forward to the huge matchup with Wash U,” Voss said. “The game could potentially be for winning the league and if we win, that puts us in a good position for postseason play, something which no one on this team has experienced.”
Tip off for that game is set for February 28 at 3 p.m. in St. Louis, MO.