South Florida (4-2) at George Mason (5-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 4, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Patriot Center (10,000) -- Fairfax, Virginia. Television: MASN. Home Record: USF 3-2, GMU 4-0. Away Record: USF 1-0, GMU 1-2. Neutral Record: USF 0-0, GMU 0-0. Conference Record: USF 0-0, GMU 0-0. Series Record: South Florida leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The George Mason Patriots will close out a brief two-game homestand on Wednesday night, as they clash with the South Florida Bulls in non-conference action.
USF's season got off to a flying start with four consecutive victories, but it has since slipped up with back-to-back defeats at the hands of nationally- ranked Oklahoma State (93-67) and Detroit (65-60). This marks just the second road contest for the Bulls on the campaign, having previously downed Bowling Green on Nov. 15, 75-61.
Following a similar pattern as USF, George Mason began the season with four straight win before falling in two straight games to Iona (89-73) and Princeton (71-66). The Patriots recently rebounded from that mini losing streak on Saturday afternoon with a 61-54 victory over Rhode Island to improve to 5-2 and 4-0 on their home floor.
These two teams have met just once before, with USF claiming a 61-57 decision on Dec. 29, 2012.
Even though the Bulls held an eight-point lead at the half in their latest game, their field goal percentage dipped from 46.4 percent in the opening stanza to 29.6 percent after intermission as they allowed Detroit to storm back for the win. In addition to the poor shooting, they were also outrebounded (44-35) and outscored at the foul line (25-15). Martino Brock led the effort with 16 points, although he was 0-of-3 from 3-point range for a team that went just 3-of-18 from beyond the arc. Victor Rudd was sturdy in the frontcourt with 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Although USF has a rather modest scoring offense this season (72.8 ppg), it has found success behind great defensive pressure, as its opponents shoot just 39.1 percent from the floor for 68.2 points per game. Rudd (14.2 ppg) has been nearly automatic at the free-throw line (29-of-32), while Corey Allen, Jr. (13.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Brock (10.3 ppg) solid as well. John Egbunu (8.3 ppg) is a force in the paint with 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per tilt.
In a tight matchup with Rhode Island late last week, the Patriots snapped a 54-54 tie in the final two minutes to finish the game on a 7-0 run. Although it was a rather modest field-goal shooting performance (.420), the Patriots held slim advantages in the rebounding (36-30) and turnover (15-13) battles, which proved to be enough in the end. Sherrod Wright led the way with 16 points on 7-of-15 from the floor, while Marko Gujanicic (13 points, six rebounds) and Jalen Jenkins (nine points, 11 rebounds, five blocks) were also integral factors in the victory. George Mason has gotten used to coming out on top of low-scoring affairs this season, as it owns a +3.0 scoring margin despite putting up just 66.4 points per game. Wright has been outstanding through the first month of the season with 16.9 points per game on 48.3 percent from the field. Gujanicic (12.0 ppg) has been solid despite having nearly twice as many turnovers (21) as assists (11), while Bryon Allen brings 10.8 points and 5.0 assists to the table.
Both teams have made the most of their limited offensive talent this season by playing stout defense, and with all other things considered equal, George Mason will hold a slight advantage in this matchup due to its prowess at the Patriot Center.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: George Mason 67, South Florida 65
12/04 10:33:37 ET