Men’s Basketball Preview: GW vs. Rhode Island

WHO: GW (12-3, 0-1) vs. Rhode Island (9-7, 0-1)
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 11 @ 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Smith Center

Case for Rhode Island:

The Rams were one point away from starting their Atlantic 10 season on a huge high note. Facing A-10 favorite Saint Louis, URI overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to take the lead halfway through the second half, before losing by a free throw, 59-58. Now, they find themselves in the same position as the Colonials – looking for their first conference win.

Then-Ffreshman forward Patricio Garino leaps through Rhode Island defenders for a bucket last season. Hatchet File Photo
Then-Ffreshman forward Patricio Garino leaps through Rhode Island defenders for a bucket last season. Hatchet File Photo

Coming into the season, the Rams were picked to finish one place ahead of the Colonials (9th) in the preseason A-10 standings. Although they currently sit in the bottom tier of the rankings, URI has been able to achieve its winning record through its defense. The Rams rank fifth in the A-10 in three-point field defense (.296 percent) and third in the league in blocked shots per game (4.9 bpg).

Against a team like GW – who has found success shooting from behind the arc, but struggled in games when the long ball doesn’t fall – URI may pose a problem.

On the offensive side, the Rams are led by senior Xavier Munford, who ranks eighth in the A-10 at 15.8 points per game. Munford, along with freshman E.C. Matthews, are the reigning A-10 player and rookie of the week. Matthews is second on the team, averaging 12.4 points per game. The Rams will need strong performances from the duo if they hope to keep up with the potent Colonials offense.

Case for GW:

Combine GW’s aggressive, turnover-causing defense with URI’s lackluster offense, and this game appears to be a bad matchup for the Rams.

URI has the second-lowest scoring offense in the A-10 at 67.8 points per game, probably due to their poor .429 shooting percentage and league worst .307 three-point shooting percentage. On the flip side, GW forces 14.5 turnovers per game, while already holding opponents to 66.3 points per game. The Colonials should have no problem containing the Rams offense, and will look to get a lot of easy baskets in transition.

GW, though, is coming off just as hard of a conference opening loss to La Salle, 76-72. Two positives come out of that loss for the Colonials: the re-emergence of sophomore Patricio Garino and the offensive success without the usual production from team-leading scorer Maurice Creek.

Garino has missed significant time this season due to lingering finger injuries, but scored a season-high 15 points against the Explorers. His presence adds another dose of energy and transitional threat to the Colonials offense. With Creek scoring just eight points in the loss, senior Isaiah Armwood picked up the slack with a 15 point, 12 rebound night. Armwood will hope to find his offensive form in A-10 play and improve upon his 11.4 points per game.

Playing at home, where GW has not lost all season, this should be the game where the Colonials gets their first A-10 win.

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