[PREVIEW] Mason returns home to face in-state rival James Madison

The George Mason University men’s basketball team returns home on Tuesday to take on James Madison University at 7 p.m. at the Patriot Center.

Mason (9-7, 2-2 CAA) is coming off of a 82-74 road loss against the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, in which Sherrod Wright led the Patriots in scoring with 25 points and resumed his top-scorer placement on the stat sheet, after being held to only 1 point to his name in their last home game 71-46 blowout win against Old Dominion University. Wright has been the top scorer for the Patriots in 13 of 16 games this season, and leads the CAA in 3-PT FG% (41%).

Sophomore guard Corey Edwards is averaging 4.8 assists over his last four games for the Patriots and continues to be a solid choice at starting point guard providing a presence in the paint, and is a force in driving the lane.

In their last home game, Mason outscored ODU (2-14, 0-4 CAA) 58-9 off the bench. Two players for the Patriots in particular that have been impressive in the last two games: 6’1” freshman guard Patrick Holloway and 6’6” redshirt junior forward Paris Bennett.

Holloway contributed 11 points for the Patriots against UNC-W, in his second back-to-back game in double-digits. Holloway seems to be finding his sweet spot from behind the arc lately, hitting two 3-pointers in their last game, and went 3-of-6 on 3-point shots contributing a total 15 points to lead his team in scoring in against ODU.

Bennett added five points for the Patriots in the loss against UNC-W, and scored a career-high 13 points on 6-of-6 in the win over ODU. This efficiency is exactly what the team has been searching for and Bennett has the potential to emerge as a solid go-to scorer off the bench for the Patriots going forward in CAA play if he continues to see playing time.  

“He’s a very smart basketball player,” said coach Paul Hewitt following the ODU game. “He has a chance to really be one of the leaders on our team. I can’t underestimate how smart a basketball player he is. I think sometimes players don’t appreciate how much IQ can mean to their play. They want to do it on athleticism, quickness, taking a guy one-on-one – but if you see the whole floor, the way Paris does, I think it makes you so much of a better player.”

James Madison (9-8, 3-1 CAA) is coming off of a 51-43 home game win against Drexel. Senior 6’6” forward Rayshawn Goins leads his team in scoring on the season with 15 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Goins is averaging 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game over his last eight games with 3 double-doubles and will pose as an offensive-threat for the Patriots in this matchup.

Senior guard Devon Moore leads his team in assists, averaging 4.5 per game for the Dukes. Moore and freshman guard Andre Nation are a force to be reckoned with on the court. Nation is listed as questionable for the game with an arm injury.

The Patriots will be looking to clench their eighth straight victory over the Dukes, with the last matchup between these two teams in January 2012, resulting in an 89-79 Mason win.

Mason needs to show that same half-court defense that we saw from them earlier in the season, at the beginning of non-conference play, against this in-state rival. Mason allowed 19 offensive rebounds in their loss to UNC-W and need to have a better inside game against the Dukes. The team with the stronger presence in the paint could prove to be the key factor and should be a constant focus for the Patriots if they expect to walk away from this in-state rivalry game with a win.  

Photo by John Irwin

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