UChicago men's basketball runs out to big lead and holds off NYU, 69-58

Jordan Smith and Waller Perez
Jordan Smith and Waller Perez

CHICAGO – In a matchup of nationally-ranked teams, rock-solid defense and a fast start to the game keyed the University of Chicago men's basketball victory over New York University 69-58 on Friday night.

The No. 12-ranked Maroons (13-2 overall) stretched their win streak to 12 games and are now 4-0 in the University Athletic Association (UAA). The No. 17-ranked Violets dropped to 12-2 overall and 2-2 in the UAA.

Shots just kept falling for the home team in the early going. Two-straight layups by senior forward Nate Brooks got the Maroons on the board and they were off to the races. UChicago made 7 of 8 field goals during one stretch and took its biggest lead of the game at 21-6. Junior forward Waller Perez contributed six points in that time frame by mixing it up down low.

Defensive intensity allowed the Maroons to jump out to that 15-point lead. NYU's big forward duo of Costis Gontikas (6-foot-9) and Evan Kupferberg (6-foot-6) were fronted by UChicago's athletic defenders to prevent any easy entry passes. Kupferberg came into the contest as the second-leading scorer in the UAA (19.5 PPG), and the defense focused on him accordingly with constant double teams on the block.

NYU chopped into the lead as the half wore on, but UChicago held sway and led 34-24 at halftime. The smothering defense held the visitors to 35.7 percent shooting from the field, while the Maroons shot 44.4 percent. Perez scored eight points while Brooks and senior guard Jordan Smith had six apiece.

Gontikas was a reliable threat for NYU during the game and ended up with a game-high 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting. UChicago tried to keep its pace, with sophomore guard Jake Fenlon hitting a key turn-around trey at 49-40. The deficit was then trimmed down to four points at 49-45. The Maroons reacted by driving the lane at every opportunity to score in close or draw fouls. Smith hit a layup and two free throws to make the score 59-48.

UChicago led by at least seven points from that point on and salted the game away in the final minutes to earn the 69-58 win in front of a large, enthusiastic home crowd.

NYU held a small 38-37 edge in rebounding, but turned the ball over 14 times to allow 22 points off turnovers for the Maroons.

Smith ended up with 15 points and Perez followed with 14 points. Brooks grabbed 10 rebounds and junior guard Tyler Howard was effective on offense with 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting.

UChicago Team Stats & Leaders
Field-goal Percentage – 43.1 percent (22-51)
Three-point Percentage – 31.8 percent (7-22)
Free-throw Percentage – 62.1 percent (18-29)
Jordan Smith (Guard, Sr.) – 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Waller Perez (Forward, Jr.) – 14 points, 4 rebounds
Tyler Howard (Guard, Jr.) – 11 points, 3 rebounds
Nate Brooks (Forward, Sr.) – 8 points, 10 rebounds

NYU Team Stats & Leaders
Field-goal Percentage – 40.0 percent (24-60)
Three-point Percentage – 17.6 percent (3-17)
Free-throw Percentage – 63.6 percent (7-11)
Costis Gontikas – 19 points, 4 rebounds
Evan Kupferberg – 10 points, 4 rebounds

NEXT GAME:

  • Sunday, January 24 – Brandeis University at UChicago, 11 AM