Preview: Men’s basketball vs. George Mason

Media Credit: File photo by Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Redshirt junior guard Armel Potter makes his way around a VCU player at last month's away game.

Who: Men’s basketball
Where: Smith Center, Washington, D.C.
When: Saturday, March 9 at 2 p.m.

Men’s basketball (8-22, 4-13 A-10) will defend the Smith Center for the final time this season as GW plays host to George Mason (16-14, 10-7 A-10) in the final game of the regular season.

The Colonials are coming off a tough 67-56 loss to Fordham Wednesday, marking the first time since 2012 the Rams have defeated GW. George Mason enters the contest recovering from a 71–36 whooping by conference-leading VCU.

The Colonials have not won a contest since Feb. 20 against Massachusetts.

In their first meeting of the year, GW lost to George Mason on the road Jan. 27 after committing 18 turnovers en route to a 62-55 loss.

Case for the Colonials:

GW’s loss to Fordham puts the team on a four-game losing streak.

The Colonials have been struggling to generate offense on the court, and are averaging 36.1 percent shooting from the floor across the last four games. But despite the losses, GW has been able to shore up some aspects of play in the last two games.

The Colonials have limited their turnovers to nine or fewer in their games against St. Bonaventure and Fordham after giving up double-digit numbers to VCU and Rhode Island in the previous two matches. Turnovers were key in GW’s loss to the Patriots the last time around. But take away the 16 points George Mason scored against the Colonials off giveaways, and the scoreboard favors GW. If GW wants to avoid falling to the Patriots again, it will need to continue handling the ball better.

One of the biggest assets for the Colonials Saturday should be their rebounding. GW was able to rack up 40 rebounds to George Mason’s 35 in the teams’ last go-around, and despite losing to Fordham Wednesday, the Colonials were able to muscle their way to a season-high 50 rebounds at the final buzzer. Crashing the glass has been a pain point for GW this season, but if the Colonials can recreate their performance under the rim Wednesday in Saturday’s match against one of the 10 teams they have been able to outrebound in the past, they should be able to limit second-chance points while taking advantage of extra possessions.

Case for the Patriots:

The Patriots are also on a cold streak heading into the Smith Center going 1-4 in their last five contests. The team is also coming off turning in a season-low 24.5 percent shooting night against VCU Tuesday. But despite their cold shooting against the top team in the conference, the Patriots are averaging 70.5 points per contest compared to GW’s 63.6 points per game tally.

Freshman guard Jordan Miller has helped boost the Patriots’ offense as of late. Miller is averaging 13 points per contest while shooting at a 60.0 clip from the field on the year. With Miller continuing to be a reliable source of points for the Patriots on top of junior guard Justin Kier’s three-point shooting abilities, George Mason should be able to put up a high-scoring match against the Colonials Saturday.

One of George Mason’s strengths is its ability to disrupt offenses and swipe the ball. The Patriots average 6.4 steals per match, which does not bode well for a Colonials offense that has struggled with turnovers in past games. If George Mason is able to shake up GW on offense and exasperate the Colonials’ shooting woes Saturday, the Patriots should be able to take the victory Saturday.

Bottom line:

Both teams come into Saturday’s games on a skid. With neither team carrying any momentum into the match, Saturday’s matchup could be anybody’s game. But with the Patriots’ overall success this season paired with their ability to generate high-scoring games, the scale is slightly tipped in George Mason’s favor.

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