Preview: Men’s basketball at La Salle

What: Men’s basketball (12-3, 2-0 A-10) vs. La Salle (8-7, 0-2 A-10)
When: Saturday, Jan. 10 at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Tom Gola Arena, Philadelphia, Pa.

Just a week after a 64-60 road win over Saint Joseph’s, the Colonials return to Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon to take on Atlantic 10 foe La Salle in their third conference game of the season.

GW will look to remain undefeated in A-10 play and extend a six-game win streak, which matches the longest for the team under head coach Mike Lonergan. The Colonials narrowly topped Saint Louis at home Tuesday night and must stay focused against a La Salle team that won 76-72 at home against GW last year.

After three consecutive non-conference wins, the Explorers dropped their first two conference games to George Mason and Massachusetts and currently sit at the bottom of the A-10 with three other 0-2 teams. The Colonials are the statistical favorite, but expect La Salle to play with passion as the team searches for its first A-10 victory on a court GW hasn’t won on since 2011.

The case for La Salle:
Sophomore guard Jordan Price ranks third in the A-10 in scoring, averaging an impressive 17.1 points per game, but has combined for only 14 points in the team’s first two conference games. If Price can find his game, the Colonials may have trouble defending the versatile shooter.

While the Colonials rebound as a team, averaging 38 per game, La Salle depends on seniors Steve Zack and Jerrell Wright, who are averaging a team-leading 8.5 and 7.3 rebounds per game respectively. If the big men perform and receive help from teammates on the boards, La Salle may have a shot at snapping GW’s win streak.

One of the few statistical categories in which the Explorers lead the Colonials is free-throw shooting. To pull off an upset, La Salle will need to play aggressively against a lockdown GW defense and get to the foul line.

The case for GW:
Despite dropping their first game against the Explorers last season, the Colonials responded with a dominant 69-47 win when the teams met again at the Smith Center on Jan. 29.

Juniors Patricio Garino, Kethan Savage and Kevin Larsen are all scoring in double figures and will be able to best the Explorers’ defense if they remain composed.

Defensively, the Colonials also hold a clear edge. GW ranks 31st nationally in points allowed per game, 70th in blocks and 83rd in rebounds, while La Salle ranks 125th or worse in all three categories.

All signs point to GW in this early conference matchup, but expect La Salle to come out hungry and keep it close.

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