[PREVIEW] George Mason vs. Old Dominion -- Men's Basketball

Paul Hewitt gives Bryon Allen instructions during the South Florida game earlier this season (photo by John Irwin).
Paul Hewitt gives Bryon Allen instructions during the South Florida game earlier this season (photo by John Irwin).

Mason men’s basketball travels to Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday to take on Old Dominion at 7 p.m. at the Constant Center.

Coming off an 80-77 win over the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday night at home, Mason (7-6) looks to keep their two-game winning streak alive as they face off against this former Colonial Athletic Association conference foe in their final non-conference game of the season. The Monarchs left the CAA to join Conference USA this year.

Old Dominion at a glance

The Monarchs (5-9) lead the all-time series against Mason, 34-21, but the Patriots have taken the last five decisions including a season sweep of the team last year with a 25 point blowout win in Fairfax and an 85-74 win in Norfolk.

Former American University coach, Jeff Jones, took over the Monarchs this year after ODU won only five games last season and returns a senior-less roster, which lacks size.

The Monarchs are without 6’4” guard Donte Hill, who started 28 games for the team last season. ODU lost an NCAA appeal on behalf of Hill after determining that eight minutes of scrimmage play in his sophomore year at Clemson deemed him ineligible for an additional year. 

ODU is coming off a 74-68 loss at William and Mary last Wednesday, where the team outrebounded its tenth opponent in the last 11 games.

Projected starting lineup

2013 – 2014 Statistics

Richard Ross – Forward – 6’6” – 9.1 PPG – 7.8 RPG

Denzell Taylor – Forward – 6’7” – 5.1 PPG – 6.6 RPG

Dimitri Batten – Guard – 6’3” – 11.7 PPG – 4.6 RPG

Aaron Bacote – Guard - 6’4” – 18.5 PPG – 3.5 RPG

Keenan Palmore – Guard – 6’1” – 9.7 PPG – 4.0 RPG

Junior guard Dimitri Batten’s three-point shooting percentage has fallen from 32 percent to just under 25 percent this season, while sophomore guard Aaron Bacote leads the Monarchs in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per game and shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc. Bacote tied a career-high 28 points in the team’s most recent game against W&M.

Sophomore guard Keenan Palmore was among the nation’s top 30 in steal rate as a freshman, and leads his team with 18 total steals this season.

The Monarchs welcome Ontario, Canada native Denzell Taylor to the roster, a two-star recruit and member of the Canadian Junior Men’s National Team, averaging 5.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

How Mason stacks up

Bryon Allen and Patrick Holloway continue to shine as the Patriots’ offensive leaders, averaging 16 and 17 points respectively over the last four games.

Meanwhile, over those same four games, Sherrod Wright has seen his average points per game drop to only 5.75, compared to averaging 16.3 to start the season. Wright will have to improve his offensive contribution for the Patriots, and the team will have to play up to their potential in order to clinch their final non-conference game win of the season.  

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