[PREVIEW] Mason travels to Towson to face the surprising second-ranked Tigers

When the official 2012-2013 game schedule was announced before the start of the season, the Towson matchup seemed like an easy win and a game that the George Mason University men’s basketball team would surely take lightly. After all, the Tigers have been abysmal over the past few seasons, finishing in the cellar of the Colonial Athletic Association. At this point in the season, however, the Tigers are 10-10, 5-2 in conference competition and ranked in the CAA. When Mason travels to face the Tigers Wednesday night at 7 p.m. they need to take them seriously.

Key Returners

Marcus Damas – Forward – Junior

Damas is the Tigers’ leading returning scorer and rebounder and if not for the progression of transfer Jerrelle Benimon, he would be in the same position as last season. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor as a 6’7” forward and can score from anywhere on the floor. Coupled with Benimon, the Patriots will have to keep tabs on the two, using Erik Copes and Johnny Williams to force them to take contested shots and to possibly get them into foul trouble early.

Bilal Dixon – Forward/Center -- Senior

As the lone senior on the team, Dixon brings the Tigers experience and leadership to a relatively young team. Before coming to Towson, he was an All-Big East Rookie team member, according to Rivals.com at Providence University. At 6’9”, 245 pounds, Dixon has a big frame that overpowers most opponents and may give the Patriots trouble in controlling the Tigers’ size and frontcourt depth.

New Additions

Jerrelle Benimon – Forward – Junior

The biggest surprise and boost for the Tigers has come from Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon. Leading the team in scoring (17.0 points per game), rebounding (11.7 rebounds per game), field goal percentage (55 percent) and blocks (41), Benimon is a frontcourt force to be reckoned with on the block and on the glass. Mason will need to control him and know his whereabouts on the court at all times, collapsing on him when he gets the ball and denying entry passes to him.

Jerome Hairston – Guard – Freshman

Hairston came to Towson as the No. 117 ranked college basketball prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com. He’s a versatile guard who has the skill set of a true point guard. With a team-leading 24 steals and tied for the team lead in assists (50), Hairston has immediately made an impact for the Tigers on both the offensive and defensive end and has the potential to become a go-to player for Coach Pat Skerry in the future. 

Photo by John Irwin 

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