Preview: GW men’s basketball vs. Longwood

Joe McDonald played 38 minutes in GW's first loss of the season to UVA on Friday night, more than any other GW player. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor
Joe McDonald played 38 minutes in the Colonials’ first loss of the season to UVA on Friday night, more than any other GW player. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor
What: GW (2-1) vs. Longwood (2-3)
Where: Smith Center
When: Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.

After then-No. 9 Virginia’s stifling, suffocating defense proved too much on the road last Friday, the Colonials will look for a bounce-back win against a much weaker team that plays a much faster style of basketball.

Longwood, which went 8-24 last season, may not always be the team doing the scoring, but either the Lancers or their opponents have topped 70 points in every game they have played this year, ranking 63rd in Division I in adjusted tempo, according to the Ken Pomoroy ratings. The Colonials, on the other hand, are playing a middle-of-the-pack 161st in tempo, but are riding a NCAA 12th-best scoring defense.

The game should serve as a tune-up, particularly for players like Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino who were shut down by the Cavaliers, before the team heads into a much more competitive Thanksgiving break road matchup against Seton Hall on Saturday.

The case for Longwood:
Longwood has gotten a boost from Tulane transfer Lotanna Nwogbo, a center who is averaging nearly 15 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting 60 percent from the field.

That means GW’s post presence, which was strangely missing against Virginia, will be challenged more than other areas of the game. Even Nwogbo should be overmatched by a player like Larsen, but Longwood should put up enough of a fight inside to provide a barometer for how the Colonials respond to their first loss.

The Lancers do have recent historical success against GW, having won the previous matchup in 2009 on their home court 80-78.

The case for GW:
If the Lancers continue to play fast, GW’s defense should be able to turn that speed into a frenzy of turnovers. Longwood is averaging nearly 20 per game so far, including over 11 steals per game.

The Colonials also have a height advantage at nearly every matchup and should be able to dominate the game physically. The Lancers have struggled to rebound, where GW owns a 40.7-34 advantage over opponents, so the Colonials should be able to turn Longwood’s pace into plenty of possessions.

That advantage should also help revive the passing game as GW should be able to get plenty of assists on plays over and around Longwood.

The Lancers are overmatched in this game, so the measuring stick may become how much fire it seems like the team has after the Virginia game, as well as how much rest head coach Mike Lonergan can give his starters before suiting up at Seton Hall just three days later.

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