George Mason (7-7) at Virginia Commonwealth (12-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 9, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Siegel Center (7,617) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: GMU 5-1, VCU 7-0. Away Record: GMU 1-3, VCU 2-1. Neutral Record: GMU 1-3, VCU 3-2. Conference Record: GMU 0-0, VCU 0-0. Series Record: Virginia Commonwealth leads, 31-18.
GAME NOTES: Atlantic 10 Conference action will begin on Thursday night at the Siegel Center, as the Virginia Commonwealth Rams play host to the George Mason Patriots.
GMU has had an up-and-down start to the season, going 7-7 during non- conference play. The Patriots had been winners of back-to-back games prior to their Saturday-night showdown at Old Dominion, which they lost by a 71-66 final to dip to 1-3 on the road.
VCU, which started the season in Top 25, has had a strong season despite its fall from the national ranks, going 12-3, including a perfect 7-0 at the Siegel Center. The Rams are currently riding a four-game winning streak, most recently taking care of business against Stony Brook at home last Friday, 81-63.
The Rams have a 31-18 advantage over GMU, as the teams used to be rivals in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Patriots fell behind ODU by 11 points at the half of their latest game, and while they were able to climb back to make it just a two-point game in the final minute, they could not complete finish it off. They shot just 39.2 percent from the field, including a meager 2-of-13 from 3-point range. Sherrod Wright was off the mark with his field goal attempts (5-of-14), but had a busy night at the foul line (14-of-18) on his way to a game-high 25 points. Bryon Allen netted 18 points, Patrick Holloway scored 10 and Johnny Williams tallied eight points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.
On the season, GMU does not boast a very efficient offense, as it shoots less than 43 percent from the field for 66.4 ppg, which all but spoils a strong defensive effort (67.2 ppg). Allen leads the way with 14.1 ppg and Wright is on his heels with 13.9 ppg despite shooting less than 40 percent from the field. Holloway and Marko Gujanicic both put up 9.1 ppg.
VCU carried just a one-point lead into halftime in its most recent contest versus Stony Brook but used a dominant second half to pull away for the 18- point victory. It not only pieced together an impressive shooting night from the field (.472), 3-point range (.391) and the foul line (.786) but it earned extra possessions by winning the takeaway battle, 21-9. Treveon Graham shot 4- of-8 from beyond the arc on his way to 20 points, Melvin Johnson scored 12 off the bench, Briante Weber flirted with a triple-double with 14 points, nine assists and seven steals, and Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic netted 11 apiece.
The Rams have gotten used to one-sided affairs this season, as they score 75.9 ppg while allowing just 64.7 ppg. The majority of their success can be attributed to owning the nation's top takeaway margin, as they commit 8.1 fewer turnovers per game than they allow. Graham is the catalyst with 15.7 ppg and 6.5 rpg. Reddic is a mainstay in the frontcourt with 11.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg, while Johnson scores 10.7 ppg on 41.7 percent shooting from 3-point range.
With the Rams playing lights-out basketball on their home floor and the Patriots struggling to find their identity on the road, figure for VCU to have no problem getting off to a 1-0 start in the A-10.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Commonwealth 77, George Mason 64
01/09 10:32:20 ET