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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Patriot Center (10,000) -- Fairfax, Virginia. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: Penn 1-3, George Mason 4-1. Away Record: Penn 1-5, George Mason 1-2. Neutral Record: Penn 0-0, George Mason 1-3. Conference Record: Penn 0-0, George Mason 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a tight victory in Honolulu on Christmas Day, George Mason plays its first home game in nearly a month when the Patriots battle the Penn Quakers in non-conference action. It will mark the first meeting for these programs on the hardwood.
The Patriots went 1-2 at the Diamond Head Classic with losses to Iowa State and Oregon State before coming away with a 65-63 triumph over the Saint Mary's Gaels in the seventh-place game of the tournament just over a week ago. Bryon Allen and Patrick Holloway netted 15 points apiece to lead George Mason. Johnny Williams added 14 points for the Patriots, who snapped a four-game skid.
Holloway averaged 15.3 ppg during the tourney and also shot 60 percent from 3- point range. Allen, who has scored in double figures the last five contests, is second on the Patriots at 12.7 ppg, just behind Sherod Wright (13.5 ppg). Wright, though, was limited to seven points in the Patriots' most recent game. It was the first time all season he hasn't scored at least 10 points. Sophomore forward Marko Gujanicic (9.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg) leads the team on the glass, while Holloway is the squad's go-to player on the perimeter, as he's connecting on 41.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Although Atlantic 10 play has yet to start for George Mason, the Patriots head into this contest as the lowest-scoring team in the conference at 65.2 ppg. On the positive side, the defense for the Patriots has been outstanding, as they're allowing only 66.1 ppg, which is among the top five teams in the conference.
Penn is coming off a tough 89-88 loss at Rider on Sunday. The Quakers blew a 14-point lead with just over seven minutes left and Rider scored the game's last seven points to send Penn to its fifth consecutive defeat. Miles Cartwright contributed 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds for Penn. Julian Harrell finished with a game-high 23 points and Fran Dougherty chipped in 18 points. The Quakers, who shot a season-best 59.6 percent from the field, haven't won since Nov. 26 against Niagara. The 88 points were the most in regulation since a 94-92 loss to Cornell on March 7, 2008. Penn made 10 shots from 3-point range.
Penn has limited nine of its 10 foes this season below 45 percent from the field. The problem for the Quakers continues to be closing out games. They're 0-3 in games decided by five points or less.
Despite their poor record, the Quakers have tremendous balance on offense this season with four players averaging double figures, led by Tony Hicks (13.8 ppg) and Cartwright (12.5 ppg). Dougherty (11.3 ppg) and starting center Darien Nelson-Henry (12.8 ppg) are also in double figures, but Nelson-Henry is reportedly out indefinitely due to a concussion. The Quakers average 71.2 ppg, but allow 78.2 ppg. They are also shooting just 64.8 percent from the charity stripe.
The Patriots should have the upperhand and should thrive offensively against a team that has struggled on the defensive end all season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: George Mason 78, Penn 70
01/02 10:32:09 ET
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