[PREVIEW] George Mason vs. Iowa State -- Men's Basketball

Mason men's basketball travels to Honolulu, Hawaii for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (photo courtesy of gomason.com).
Mason men's basketball travels to Honolulu, Hawaii for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (photo courtesy of gomason.com).

The Mason men’s basketball team travels to Honolulu, Hawaii to take on Iowa State at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday at Stan Sheriff Center in the first game of a three-day tournament in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

The event features an eight-team field including Akron, Boise State, Iowa State, Oregon State, Saint Mary's, South Carolina and host Hawaii in addition to Mason. The tournament will feature a bracket format with 12 games played over three days, and each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through the bracket.

Iowa State at a glance

The Cyclones (8-0) are ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press poll for the fourth consecutive week, and No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

ISU ranks among the NCAA’s top-ten in five statistical categories this season. The Cyclones are first in scoring (90.9), first in assists (19.8), fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.78), sixth in scoring margin (21.5) and tied for sixth in three-point field goals per game (9.9).

ISU is one of 13 teams nationally and the only Big 12 team that remains undefeated. The team has had at least four players in double figures in each game this season and five different players averaging double figures.

Returning players  

2012 – 2013 Statistics

Melvin Ejim – Forward – 6’6” – 11.3 PPG – 9.3 RPG – 1.5 APG

Georges Niang – Forward – 6’7” – 12.1 PPG – 4.6 RPG – 1.8 APG

Senior forward Melvin Ejim is averaging 18.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season, shooting 52.5 percent from the field and has been in double figures in all six games played since returning from injury (knee). Ejim ranks among the top-10 in the Big 12 in six statistical categories.

Sophomore forward Georges Niang was most recently named Big 12 player of the week, and is averaging 14.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game this season. Niang plays the Stretch 4 position, spending most of his time away from the hoop, which allows Ejim to attack the basket. Niang is skilled at setting up his teammates and hitting jumpers.

Incoming threats 

2013 – 2014 Statistics

Dustin Hogue – Forward – 6’6” – 12.6 PPG – 11.1 RPG – 0.8 APG

DeAndre Kane – Guard – 6’4” – 14.1 PPG – 7.4 RPG – 5.8 APG

Junior forward Dustin Hogue leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth nationally in boards, averaging 11.1 rebounds per game. A transfer from Indian Hills Community College, Hogue has been seeing solid playing time on the wing with Ejim playing mostly at the 4.

Senior guard DeAndre Kane is a transfer from Marshall, where he averaged 15.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game last season. For the Cyclones this season, Kane is averaging 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

Freshman 6’3” guard Matt Thomas is averaging 9.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

How Mason stacks up

Despite not having anyone over 6’7” on the roster, ISU has proven themselves as one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, ranking first nationally in defensive rebounds, averaging 35.1 per game.

The Patriots (5-4) will have to play mistake-free basketball if they want to have a chance at winning this game. Mason will have to control the ball deep into the shot clock to shorten the game to slow the Cyclones’ offense, and if the game turns into a high-scoring shootout it will be difficult for the Patriots to keep up. 




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