BOSTON -- Harvard made the best case it could to extend its first-ever appearance in The Associated Press Top 25, running away from Boston University.
Kyle Casey had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Harvard (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 25 AP) past BU 76-52 on Saturday. The Crimson scored 16 straight points near the end of the first half to bounce back after a loss to ninth-ranked Connecticut."It's nice to be in the rankings. It's kind of a testament to how hard we work," Casey said. "But if we drop out, if we stay in it, it's not going to change what we do in practice every day."Reserve Laurent Rivard scored 18 points for the Crimson, making 6 of 7 from 3-point range -- two of them during the 16-0 run that turned a two-point game into a blowout. Two days after losing by 14 points to UConn, Harvard (9-1) led by as many as 29 points in the second half."We went through that spell where we didn't score. And we got way too far down to be able to come back," BU coach Joe Jones said. "Harvard's going to take you out of your offense; that's what they do. And we were just not able to make individual plays."Darryl Partin, who entered the game averaging 23.9 points, scored 12 for BU (4-6). Patrick Hazel had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Terriers, who had won four of five.The game was close for the first 12 minutes, with BU leading 18-17 with 7:45 to play in the first half.But Harvard scored 16 in a row before Hazel made a buzzer-beating putback at the end of the half, drawing a foul. After the referees reviewed the play, the basket was ruled good and he was given one free throw with no time on the clock and none of the other players on either team remaining on the floor.He missed, giving Harvard a 37-21 lead at the break.Harvard made the first two baskets of the second half, and BU never got closer than 17 points after that."They were chasing us around," Rivard said. "At some point their defense broke down, and we were able to get open shots."Harvard returned its entire starting lineup from the team that tied Princeton last year for the school's first-ever Ivy League title. (Princeton won a one-game tiebreaker for the right to the conference's NCAA tournament berth.)After opening the season 8-0, Harvard cracked into the AP top 25 for its first time. But in their first game as a ranked team, the Crimson lost 67-53 to UConn."It's been a neat thing. We're proud and pleased we're thought of that way," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "If it happens for us to remain, that's great. If not, we'll try to stay true to our identity and live up to our standards."Jones coached in the Ivies at Columbia from 2003-10, and saw Amaker's work with a program that had never won a conference title before."To see what he's done with this program is amazing," Jones said. "He has brought some guys in that are committed, very skilled and tough, and they play a great brand of basketball. That's what I saw on film, and it rang true tonight."Harvard is off for the next 11 days for exams.BU has not beaten a ranked team since 1959 and had not even hosted a ranked team since 2003.