Rhode Island (9-7) at George Washington (12-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 11, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Charles E. Smith Center (5,000) -- Washington, D.C. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: URI 7-3, GW 7-0. Away Record: URI 2-4, GW 2-2. Neutral Record: URI 0-0, GW 3-1. Conference Record: URI 0-1, GW 0-1. Series Record: George Washington leads, 29-24.
GAME NOTES: Both the Rhode Island Rams and the George Washington Colonials will try to bounce back from losses earlier in the week on Saturday afternoon, when the squads face off at the Charles E. Smith Center in Atlantic 10 Conference action.
After opening up the 2014 calendar year with two strong road wins at Brown (75-66) and LSU (74-70), URI returned home on Tuesday night to open up A-10 play only to fall to Saint Louis in heartbreaking fashion, 59-58. That loss aside, it has been a solid campaign for the Rams, who are 9-7, although that includes just a 2-4 mark away from home.
Since starting the season with wins in 11 of its first 12 matchups, GW has slipped up in two of its last three, including its league lid-lifter on Thursday night at La Salle, 76-72. The good news for the Colonials is that they get to return home where they've won all seven games at the Smith Center.
GW holds a 29-24 lead in the all-time series with URI, which includes wins in three straight matchups.
The Rams overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to Saint Louis earlier in the week to claim a one-point lead with 17 seconds left on a Xavier Munford free throw, but the Billikens answered back with a pair of free throws themselves with seven seconds remaining to capture the one-point victory. They shot just 39.6 percent from the field in the low-scoring affair and were hindered by losing the rebounding battle, 41-36. E.C. Matthews drained 3-of-7 from 3-point range on his way to 17 points, while Munford was right on his tail with 16 points.
URI typically struggles putting points on the board, as it shoots less than 43 percent from the field for 67.8 ppg, but luckily it makes up for it with a strong scoring defense (66.8 ppg). Munford leads the way with 15.8 ppg, but his production is mostly the result of high volume, as he shoots just 36.7 percent from the field. Matthews (12.4 ppg) is also a low-percentage scorer (.391), while Gilvydas Biruta is a mainstay in the frontcourt with 10.3 ppg and 6.9 rpg.
The Colonials kept their deficit to one-possession for the majority of the second half against La Salle and never trailed by more than seven points, but they were never able to overtake the lead in the four-point loss as they shot just 38.3 percent from the field, including 3-of-14 from beyond the arc. Isaiah Armwood made his presence felt in the frontcourt with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Patricio Garino also scored 15, shooting 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-3 from the stripe in 23 minutes off the bench. Joe McDonald netted 12 points, while Kevin Larsen tallied nine points, 11 rebounds and three steals.
On the season, GW is usually a much more efficient squad, as it shoots 46 percent from the field for 75.5 ppg, while allowing just 66.3 ppg on 41.7 percent shooting. It also lives comfortably in the green in terms of both rebounding (+4.1) and turnover (+2.5) margin. Maurice Creek is active from 3- point range, draining 39-of-94 from long distance on his way to a team-high 15.5 ppg. Kethan Savage (13.8 ppg) makes just shy of 53 percent of his field goal tries, while Armwood (11.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.5 bpg) and Larsen (10.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are a stellar forward duo.
URI has had issues putting respectable point totals on the board this season, especially on the road, which is a recipe for disaster heading to the Smith Center to take on a well-rounded GW squad that has yet to lose at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: George Washington 71, Rhode Island 61
01/11 12:05:55 ET