George Mason (7-10) at Rhode Island (9-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Ryan Center (7,657) -- Kingston, Rhode Island. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: GMU 5-3, URI 7-3. Away Record: GMU 1-4, URI 2-6. Neutral Record: GMU 1-3, URI 0-0. Conference Record: GMU 0-3, URI 0-3. Series Record: George Mason leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: Both sides will be looking for their first Atlantic 10 Conference win of the campaign when the George Mason Patriots visit the Ryan Center to face the Rhode Island Rams.
The Patriots' first season as a member of the A-10 has gotten off to a slow start. They lost their fourth game in a row and dropped to 0-3 in the league standings on Wednesday after they came up just short of an upset of No. 16 Massachusetts. George Mason let a late lead slip away as the Minutemen made a last second layup to win, 88-87. The Patriots are 7-10 overall including a 1-4 mark in true road tests. They have been the second least productive team in the A-10 to this point, averaging only 67.8 ppg on 43 percent efficiency from the floor.
URI is the only team in the league with a lower scoring average, as it is posting a mere 66.8 ppg on 42.8 percent shooting from the field. The Rams built up some momentum before beginning the league portion of their schedule with back-to-back victories over Brown and LSU. However, the team has been defeated in three consecutive outings by Saint Louis (59-58), George Washington (69-56) and most recently, La Salle (72-62). Although URI has lost its last two games at the Ryan Center, it still owns a 7-3 record at home in 2013-14.
This will be the third meeting in history and second encounter this season between these schools. In a game that was considered a non-conference tilt in late November, GMU defeated the Rams, 61-54, in Fairfax. Jalen Jenkins played only 17 minutes, yet still managed to tally nine points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to propel the Patriots to the decision.
GMU nearly took down UMass thanks to the effort of its high-scoring trio. Sherrod Wright scored 26 points, Bryon Allen tallied 21 and Jenkins chimed in with 16 points to go along with nine rebounds to lead the Patriots who lost for the eighth time in 10 games. Allen is pacing the team on the season in the scoring column at 14.9 ppg, while Wright is close behind at 14 ppg. GMU regularly receives a spark off the bench from Patrick Holloway, who has knocked down a team-high 31 shots from behind the 3-point line. Jenkins is netting just 6.6 ppg, but leads the team on the glass with 5.8 rpg.
A poor first half plagued the Rams against the Explorers, as they connected on only 32.1 percent of their field-goal tries, including a 2-of-7 clip from 3- point range in the opening 20 minutes of the contest. Although URI played much better after the break, it was unable to overcome the 11-point halftime lead La Salle built in the first period. Xavier Munford led the Rams with 21 points and eight assists. Gilvydas Biruta logged a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. Munford has hit on just 37 percent of his shots from the floor en route to a team-high 15.7 ppg. Freshman swingman E.C. Matthews is the team's second-leading scorer at 11.7 ppg after being held to just six by La Salle.
These squads are very evenly matched and the final score will most likely reflect their equality. There is a strong possibility GMU snaps its losing streak in Kingston, but it will need to contain Matthews, who is due for a big game after struggling of late.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rhode Island 70, George Mason 68
01/18 10:15:08 ET