PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas—The Harvard men’s basketball team’s 75-47 win over Utah last night marked more than just a first-round victory at the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. It also gave the Crimson a win over a BCS-conference opponent for the fifth straight season.
Since taking over the program in 2007, Harvard ‘s Tommy Amaker has coached the Crimson to a 6-8 record against opponents from the Power-Six conferences: Big East, ACC, Big 10, Big XII, SEC, and Pac-12.
In Amaker’s first season in Cambridge, Harvard surprised the Big Ten’s Michigan at Lavietes Pavilion. One year later, Jeremy Lin ’10 and the Crimson shocked then-No. 17 Boston College, besting the ACC Eagles on their home court.
Since its first victory, Harvard has posted road victories over Boston College in each of the last two seasons. Additionally the Crimson toppled Colorado—then a member of the Big XII—last season, marking two BCS wins.
Amaker made it five years in a row last night with the win over Utah, which recently joined the Pac-12. The win improves the Crimson’s all-time record against current members of the Pac-12 to 2-19.
“It certainly was a nice win for us over a BCS-conference school,” said Amaker of last night’s win. “We’re establishing ourselves as a program that, whoever we play, we think we’re going to be competitive.”
The Crimson will get another crack at BCS-conference opponent Friday afternoon when Harvard faces No. 22 Florida State of the ACC. If Harvard were to defeat the Seminoles—a tall task—the Crimson would likely face the Big East’s UConn, giving Harvard three BCS matchups in as many days.
A key for the Crimson in last night’s matchup was stopping Utah Josh Watkins. Watkins, a 6'0 guard, entered yesterday’s contest averaging a team-best 21.3 points per game.
“The kid Watkins is a very good player,” Amaker said. “He’s strong; he’s fast with the ball; he can drive it; he’s crafty.”
But thanks in large part to the defensive efforts of junior point guard Brandyn Curry, Watkins was, in effect, neutralized.
In 24 minutes, Watkins posted 12 points on as many shots and recorded five turnovers.
“We talked about that being the key matchup for us in this game,” said Amaker of the Curry-Watkins matchup. “[Curry’s] ability to guard Watkins, I thought, was the key to [last night’s] win.”
Curry got off to a hot start on both ends of the floor, scoring seven of the Crimson’s first 11 points and contributing to Watkins’s 0-for-5 shooting performance to open the contest.
“I just wanted to set the pace, be aggressive on defense and offense,” said Curry, who finished with nine points, three assists, and two turnovers. “That was my mindset going into the game.”
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