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George Mason heads to Charlottesville for battle with UVA

George Mason Basketball: George Mason heads to Charlottesville for battle with UVA

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

George Mason heads to Charlottesville for battle with UVA

George Mason heads south to battle UVA, a team that could be the highest ranking team (RPI wise) on their schedule this season. George Mason is 0-6 all-time versus UVA and Paul Hewitt lost to them twice last season at Georgia Tech.  Just last week they beat #15 Michigan on their home court and just buried Longwood 86-53 over the weekend.  They have a powerful inside presence with Mike Scott and a number of good shooters on the roster.  They are also the best defensive team Mason could face all season and have been holding their opponents to under 48 points a game and around 35% shooting from the field.  To date this season the Patriots are averaging 72.5 points a game and 46.7% from the field.  UVA runs mostly a half court offense and are capable of going on big runs.  They get to the free-line a lot, so players staying out of foul trouble could be an issue in this one (cough, Mike Morrison, cough).  Mason will have to play very disciplined basketball and I am not just talking about limiting their turnovers.  They would need to dictate the pace on offense and force UVA into a more up tempo game. That's no easy task on the road, where Mason hasn't looked great so far.  

To win a lot is going to have to go right for Mason and that doesn't just mean Ryan Pearson scores 25-30 points.  They will really have to make this game into a run and gun type and not let UVA's defense slow things down into a grinding halt, as they have down to a few teams already this year.  It would be a great night for Vertrail Vaughns to get out of his three-point shooting slump and help the Patriots score from outside the paint for a change.  Guys like Pearson, Wright, and Allen will have to get to the foul line and convert. This team is starting to show us their athleticism and it can be their biggest strength.  The Patriots have been better on the boards than the Cavaliers, especially the offensive glass, so they will need to use that to their advantage.

Ryan Pearson vs Mike Scott:
NCAA Basketball Stats

Here are my keys to the game for George Mason:

Slow down Mike Scott without fouling out.  Morrison, Pearson, and Copes will have their hands full with Mike Scott in the front court. Like Pearson he can beat you in a number of different ways and also like Pearson he gets to the line often.  Ryan Pearson is too important to the Patriots and it he gets in to foul trouble things could get ugly fast.  Copes' size will most likely be used a lot but you have to worry the freshman could get Scott too many bailouts if he is sloppy. Mike Morrison has been better at staying in games this season but it will be no easy task for him to stay under five fouls.

Run, run, score, score.  Let's face it, the Patriots can flat out score and they can beat you to the basket.  They will need to play to their own strengths to pull off this upset and not allow UVA to get set on defense. UVA hasn't been in many high-scoring affairs this season and pushing the game into the high 70s and 80s could favor Mason. Corey Edwards returning will help them run and I think it's vital that they jump out to an early lead. The biggest fear for Mason fans in this one will be UVA's defense suffocating the Patriots, leaving them looking lost on offense in a half court game.  

Bench production.  Mason hasn't got much from their bench this season on the scoreboard, even with Corey Edwards healthy.  Against Towson the only bench player that played more than 9 minutes was Paris Bennett, who went scoreless. That's pretty sad considering who they were playing and they need to have more depth. In big road games like this, a team often needs a lift from a bench player. Last season it was Isaiah Tate or Vertrail Vaughns, who will step up for that role this season?  Hewitt wants to go deeper than six or seven guys and will need more production from role players to beat the better teams on their schedule.  Jonathan Arledge and Vaughn Gray are being groomed to be 10 point guys off the bench but just aren't seasoned enough quite yet.

(TV: ESPN3) or watch free stream here



Anonymous Guest said...

Mason did a pretty good job with Muscala against Bucknell...I feel like UVA is similarly structured but obviously more talented.  I've been impressed with Copes on both ends of the floor so far, but he is a freshman and sometimes he gets beat too easily.  Sometimes his length allows him to make up for those mistakes and come up with huge blocks!  I think Vaughns will be a factor in this game, and hopefully Arledge can give us some good time off the bench.  It'll take a near perfect storm I think for us to beat UVA...but then again that's why they play the games. Go Mason!!

11:04 AM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

If you're comparing Muscala to Scott, then you will be in for a surprise tonight.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Tompkey6 said...

You really covered it. It may sound simple but we need to shoot from the outside as if we live there so we can open up the court. They will go inside early and often to test us both in our ability to cover and to not foul. It is a great test and one in which guard play and the bench really have to be productive and I just do not mean in points. Once again thanks for the preview. Oh, what TV station is it on if any?

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Deber said...

Mason will be living on a prayer.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

ESPN3, I also posted a free stream link in the post.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Occupy Mason said...

 Wow... True fan we have here... Have some freaking faith.

6:47 PM  

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