On Friday night, the Cornell Big Red found themselves going on the road in Ivy League play. They were 10-point underdogs, and were taking on the reigning Ivy League champions, the Harvard Crimson.
With key players on the shelf with injuries, all signs pointed to a loss for the Big Red.
Once the game tipped off, the result was never in question.
Cornell took a 15-point lead after the opening 20 minutes, and came away with a massive 77-65 win over the Crimson in Cambridge, MA.
The star of the night? Freshman guard Matt Morgan.
The product of Concord, North Carolina scored a career-high 33 points, including 19 in the second half, to help lead the Big Red to their first conference win of the season.
If you have been following Cornell over the course of 2015-16, you shouldn’t be surprised with Morgan’s performance. He has been a star for the Big Red as a freshman, and it’s about time people start to recognize his talent, and the potential he has to become a household name on the national scene over his collegiate career.
Morgan played his high school basketball at Cox Mill High School, and brought his game up to Cornell. Standing at 6’3”, and 180-pounds, he brings some size to the back court for the Big Red.
After losing the likes of Shonn Miller and Galal Cancer from last year’s team to graduate transfers, the Big Red were looking for a go-to option on offense.
Add in injuries to the likes of Robert Hatter and the season-ending injury to freshman Donovan Wright, and the need for a number one scoring option became more prominent.
After 17 games, it looks as though Morgan has emerged as that player.
His 33 points against Harvard on Friday night were a Cornell record for a freshman, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Morgan has been a consistent force on offense for the Big Red, and it spans farther than his recent big performance.
Despite shooting below 40% from the floor (39.7%), Morgan is second on the team in scoring, and subsequently second in the Ivy League. He is averaging 17.6 points per game this season, trailing only Hatter (19.9 ppg) for both the team lead and top spot in the conference.
In their three conference games, Morgan has put together games of 29, 26, and 33 points, good for an average of 29.3 points per contest. He has stepped up his production against conference opponents, but it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Morgan has appeared in 16 of Cornell’s 17 games, missing their game against the Monmouth Hawks. He has scored in double-figures in 13 of his 16 games played, topping the 20-point mark six times.
In his Cornell debut against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, he recorded 20 points and 4 assists in the Big Red’s 116-81 loss. Despite the end result, it was a promising sign for Cornell fans everywhere, and he has continued that production over the course of the season.
He has made at least 1 three-pointer in 15 of the 16 games he has appeared in. Over his last five games, he has gone an impressive 22-of-56 (39-2%) from long distance. On the season, he is shooting a shade over 32% from beyond the arc.
Morgan has been given plenty of opportunities to become an impact player in his first season in the NCAA, and he has seized every one of them.
Morgan is a strong shooter from the floor, and can make shots from all over the floor. He has speed to make a difference on both ends of the floor,
Now, he’s only a freshman, and growing pains are to be expected. So far in his first season, they have been few and far between. Morgan has been a strong addition to the rotation, and has made a seemingly smooth transition to the next level.
From what fans have seen early on in his career, they have to be pleased with the production of Matt Morgan.
If the first 16 games of his collegiate career have been any indication, he is poised for stardom in the Ivy League, and is on track to become a household name on the national stage.