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Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Harvard overwhelms MIT at Lavietes, 79-37

By Jack McCluskey

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard was missing two would-be starters for its home opener on Tuesday night.

Kenyatta Smith is out indefinitely with a left foot injury, and he was in a walking boot and a natty suit for the matchup versus MIT. Joining him in street clothes, in a surprise, was senior co-captain Brandyn Curry.

Amaker revealed after the game that Curry suffered a left foot injury in the Crimson’s season-opening 82-72 win over Holy Cross and is out indefinitely with soreness in the area of his Achilles.

“He was walking a lot better today than he was yesterday,” Amaker said. “I think one of the good signs was the doctors and our medical staff didn’t opt to put him in a boot.”

The structural change didn’t make much difference against the Engineers.

Kyle Casey made his presence known early with a block on an Andrew Acker attempt on one end and a layup on the other end after a slick spin move in the post. Wesley Saunders scored seven quick points, on a dunk, a 3-pointer from the right side and a layup, and the Crimson were off and running to a dominant 79-37 win.

“It was an opportunity for us to grow and to develop,” Amaker said after the game, the largest win over MIT in school history. “I was pleased with the mindset and the preparation by the kids ... taking pride in their performance. I thought they did a magnificent job.

“I think sometimes that can get away from kids in a game like this or in a game that in their minds they perceive that we’re supposed to be able to show up and win. And that’s not always how it works, as we know. So I was pleased with the maturity of our team … showing a workmanlike attitude and how we played for 40 minutes.”

The Crimson led by as many as 44 points, forced an Amaker-era record 29 turnovers and had a 42-16 edge in points in the paint against their clearly overmatched Cambridge rival.

“I think they’re, without question, one of the best teams in the country,” MIT coach Larry Anderson said. “And if they can stay healthy and keep playing together, I think they have a chance to be really, really special. They’re special now, but they have a chance to be really special.”

Thirteen players got court time for the Crimson on Tuesday, all but one registering at least two points and three scoring in double figures -- Saunders (tied for a game-high 14 points), Zena Edosomwan (13) and Casey (11).

It was the first start at Lavietes for Casey since Feb. 25, 2012, as the senior sat out the 2012-13 season after being implicated in a campus-wide academic cheating scandal.

The 6-foot-7, 225-pounder from Medway, Mass., provided the highlight of the night to start a 20-0 Crimson run and put the game away.

As the shot clock wound down Siyani Chambers came off a pick at the top of the key, and wheeled into the lane. Casey had already started running to the rim from the right corner, and Chambers lobbed it up for him. Casey did the rest.

“My guy turned and was kinda high and I was in the corner, so I knew I could get behind him,” Casey said. “I just happened to make a good play and catch it and finish it.”

The senior said it felt good to be back on the hardwood at Lavietes, especially leaving with a win.

Asked about the 20-0 run he started with the alley-oop finish, Casey said he didn’t even know they’d gone on that kind of run.

“Coach was harping on us about playing our game and playing the way Harvard basketball plays, so I thought we clamped up defensively and got some stops,” he said. “We made the right plays at the right time. Being older guys, being an older team I think we handled the situation very well. We came ready to play, didn’t underestimate our opponent and just took care of business.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.