Preview: Men’s basketball looks to move a step closer to Top 25

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

WHO: GW (10-1) vs. Hofstra (3-7)
WHEN: Saturday at 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Mack Sports Complex, Hofstra University

Case for Hofstra:

Sophomore Kethan Savage shoots against Radford earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo
Sophomore Kethan Savage shoots against Radford earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Last year, GW took down the Hofstra Pride 80-53 at the Smith Center, but this season, the Pride will have a chance to return the favor on their home court. With GW on its best start since 2005-06, Hofstra has a chance to keep the Colonials out of the Top 25. With a much tougher Kansas State matchup coming just three days after this one, Hofstra may be able to catch a Colonials team looking forward off-guard.

The Pride, led by two graduate students – Zeke Upshaw and Dion Nesmith – are coming off a close loss against Siena before the holiday break. Upshaw, the combo guard/forward, averaging a team-high 18.6 points per game, is likely to go head-to-head in an exciting matchup with GW graduate student Maurice Creek. Upshaw also scored 37 points in Hofstra’s 74-63 overtime loss at home to Richmond earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Nesmith is coming off his first game, against Siena, after missing three contests prior. The Pride point guard leads the team with 3.7 assists per game and is second on the team, averaging 13.1 per game.

Besides the two graduates, Hofstra has another, much younger, weapon on their side – 6-foot-5 freshman guard Jamall Robinson. Look for sophomore guard Kethan Savage to have his hands full with the Cheltenham, Md. native, as Robinson is averaging 10.0 points per game and coming off a game-high 16-point performance against Siena.

Case for GW:

The Colonials are on the brink of being nationally ranked for the first time since the end of the 2005-2006 season. With 43 points in the most recent AP poll and 20 points in the Coaches poll, GW is knocking on the door. Their key upcoming wins could be against the Big 12’s Kansas State and at home against the SEC’s Georgia. But first comes a seemingly easy win against 3-7 Hofstra of the Colonial Athletic Association.

As for a similar opponent faced, Hofstra took Manhattan – whom GW defeated in New York earlier this season 80-74 – down to the wire. Hofstra was tied at 58 with 2:46 to play before the Jaspers would go on to score eight of the final nine points to win 66-59.

The Colonials will look to capitalize with their big men inside against a smaller Hofstra team that gives up 32 points per game in the paint. Senior Isaiah Armwood at 6-foot-9 and sophomore Kevin Larsen at 6-foot-10 will have a slight height advantage over the Pride’s front court: 6-foot-7 junior center Moussa Kone and 6-foot-8 senior power forward Stephen Nwaukoni. Armwood and Larsen come into the game averaging 12.2 and 10.0 points per game, respectively.

The Colonials’ 5.91 blocks per game – good for 29th in the country – and Armwood’s team-leading 2.73 blocks a game could mean tough times scoring inside for the Pride.

Opponents are shooting 34.4 percent from behind the arc against Hofstra this season, but GW will look to counter that with their 24th best three-pointing shooting percentage in the country: 40.7 percent. With strong three-point shooting and a physical inside game, GW should easily move onto 11-1 and continue their pursuit of a Top 25 ranking.

This story was updated on Dec. 27 to reflect the following:

Correction appended
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW would move onto 12-1 with a win. The team would be 11-1.

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