Perhaps the holiday weekend pair of games the Princeton men's basketball team just completed will come to be seen as a turning point.
Two nights after a 17-point win over Rider, the Tigers took down the Patriot League's hottest team, Bucknell, 79-67 Saturday night in Jadwin Gym, cooling the Bison's best start since 1908.
Bucknell fell to 11-2 with the loss, its only other defeat having come at Penn State by three points back on Nov. 23. The Bison had won six straight. Princeton improved to 5-6 with the win, putting back-to-back victories together for the first time this season.
It was also the second straight game Princeton did not let a double-digit lead slip, a problem that had been plaguing the Tigers through the season's first nine games. In eight of those first nine contests, Princeton had led by at least eight points, but only three times did the Tigers win.
This weekend's pair of wins came in big part because of added offense from the Tigers' supporting cast. Following up his career-high 15-point game against Rider, Denton Koon co-led Princeton with another career-best with 17 points alongside Ian Hummer. Hans Brase, who had a career-high 17 against Rider, had 14 against the Bison.
It was the first time since Feb. 11, 2012 that Princeton had five players in double figures, and that night the Tigers knocked off then-No. 25 Harvard in Jadwin Gym, 70-62.
T.J. Bray added 11 points on the night for Princeton, with Mack Darrow adding 10. Clay Wilson, who had nine points, was one point away from giving the Tigers six players in double figures for the first time since March 2000.
Bucknell scored the game's first seven points, but Princeton responded with a 10-0 run and never trailed by more than five points the rest of the way. Bucknell took a 28-23 lead with a little more than six minutes to go before the half, but Princeton answered with a 10-2 run to close the period and take a 33-30 lead into halftime.
After being stuck on 47 points for more than four minutes, a stretch during which Bucknell scored only three points to trim Princeton's lead to 47-43, the Tigers went on a 15-4 run that effectively sealed the game. The Tigers' largest lead was right there at 62-47, with just less than six minutes to go.
Mike Muscala led Bucknell with 17 points and 11 boards, one of three Bison in double figures.
The Tigers will spend the next few days away from the court before resuming practice ahead of their trip to Akron for a Dec. 30 game, their next-to-last before Ivy League play begins on Jan. 12 against Penn.
• Princeton now leads the series with Bucknell 11-4. The Tigers have won five of the last six games in the series.
• Princeton shot 51 percent for the game, making the team 4-0 when they shoot 50 percent or better and 1-6 when they do not.
• A game after taking their fewest 3-point attempts of the season, with eight against Rider, Princeton took its second-most, firing up 25, one short of the 26 they tried against Rutgers on Nov. 16.
• Princeton's two highest point totals of the season have come against Patriot League schools, with 79 against Bucknell and 72 against Lafayette. The Tigers finish the regular season 2-0 against the Patriot.
• Princeton's 79 points were the team's most since scoring 95 at Evansville on March 13, 2012.
• Princeton had a season-low four turnovers and season-low one steal. The four turnovers were the team's fewest since March 11, 2003, when the Tigers also had four against Penn.
• Bucknell had seven turnovers, a season low for a Princeton opponent.
• T.J. Bray had a career-high eight assists. The junior had the most assists for any Princeton player since Will Venable '05 had nine on Dec. 6, 2003 against Fresno State.
• Ian Hummer's 17 points lifted him to 1,340 for his career, good for eighth place on the Princeton scoring list and 25 points behind Bob Scrabis '89 (1,365) in seventh place.
• Hummer is now at 523 career field goals, good for sixth on the school list and seven behind Geoff Petrie '70 (530) for fifth.
• Hummer's eight rebounds moved him past Andy Rimol '74 (617) for sixth place on the program's list since the stat began being kept in 1954-55. Now at 618, Hummer will have a while to catch fifth-place holder Chris Thomforde '69 (709), a teammate of both Hummer's father Ed '67 and uncle John '70.
• Hummer's two blocks moved him (98) past Craig Robinson '83 (97) and into a tie with Rich Simkus '83 for fourth place on the program's list since the stat being kept in 1974-75. Hummer's former teammate Kareem Maddox '11 is in third place with 108.
• Denton Koon had a career-high scoring total for the second straight game, first with 15 points against Rider and then 17 against Bucknell. Koon has shot .684 (13-19) from the field over the last two games.
• In going 4 of 4 from the free throw line, Koon improved his percentage this season from the stripe above 90 percent, now at .905 (19-21).
• T.J. Bray had his third double-digit scoring game of the season and tied a season high with three 3-pointers. His other high-scoring games were Nov. 24 at Lafayette (17) and Dec. 1 at Kent State (15).
• Mack Darrow's 10 points were a season high and his most since scoring 12 at Evansville on March 13, 2012. It was Darrow's first start of the season and first start since Feb. 10, 2012, when he started against Dartmouth.
• Hans Brase scored double digits in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Brase is shooting .708 (17-24) from the field over the last four games and is 5 of 5 from the line over the last four games.
• Brase attempted and made his first career 3-pointers tonight, going 2 of 5 from distance.
• Brendan Connolly tied a season high with three assists.