George Mason (8-15) at Massachusetts (19-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 12, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mullins Center (9,493) -- Amherst, Massachusetts. Television: None. Home Record: George Mason 5-5, UMass 10-0. Away Record: George Mason 2-7, UMass 5-3. Neutral Record: George Mason 1-3, UMass 4-1. Conference Record: George Mason 1-8, UMass 6-3. Series Record: Massachusetts leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Minutemen of Massachusetts try to maintain their unblemished home record tonight, as they host the George Mason Patriots in an Atlantic 10 Conference clash at the Mullins Center.
Until recently, the Minutemen were among the nationally ranked, but back-to- back defeats against St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph's put an end to that. However, UMass has managed to rebound from those setbacks with wins over La Salle (79-67) and, on Sunday afternoon, Rhode Island (73-68).
Meanwhile, the Patriots are finding the transition from the Colonial Athletic Association to the A-10 to be a difficult one, winning just a single league bout in nine chances. The team snapped a nine-game slide overall on Saturday with a 74-68 triumph over Duquesne on the road. Despite the favorable decision, George Mason is still only 2-7 in true road games and 3-10 away from home overall.
UMass won the first and only meeting in the series between the teams just last month, thanks to a Derrick Gordon layup in the final 10 seconds to give the visitors the 88-87 victory.
The Patriots finally broke through over the weekend at the Palumbo Center thanks to Sherrod Wright who tallied a game-high 23 points, followed by Bryon Allen and Jalen Jenkins with 17 and 10 points, respectively. George Mason finished the outing with an even 50 percent accuracy from the floor, but it was also important that the team outscore the Dukes at the free-throw line by a 20-12 margin as well.
Over the course of nine conference games, Allen leads the team in scoring with 16.6 ppg, having knocked down 40 percent of his 3-point tries and that has helped the team as a whole to come in at 40.2 percent out on the perimeter. Wright checks in with 14.9 ppg, but he is coming dangerously close to having three times as many turnovers (22) as assists (eight) at this stage for a program that is being outscored by 4.5 ppg on average.
Chaz Williams shook off a 1-of-5 shooting effort behind the 3-point line over the weekend by finishing with 21 points and seven assists for the Minutemen in their road victory against Rhode Island. Also scoring in double figures for UMass were Raphiael Putney and Derrick Gordon with 11 points apiece, the latter clearing nine rebounds as well for a squad that shot only 2-of-10 beyond the arc and 19-of-29 at the free-throw line.
Not only is Williams the top overall scorer for the Minutemen with his 16.0 ppg, thanks to 41.2 percent accuracy out on the perimeter, he is also one of the nation's leaders in terms of assists with 171 over the course of 23 starts. Making his efforts all the more impressive is the fact that he has turned the ball over only 76 times. Although he was held in check the last time out, Cady Lalanne has the potential to put up double-doubles almost every night as he averages 13.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest.
Hard to imagine the Patriots being able to take down one of the better teams in the conference, but sometimes you never know how meetings will play out. But, just to be safe, expect to see Williams get his own points and set up plenty of teammates for UMass in the victory at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 77, George Mason 65
02/12 10:41:56 ET