Attempting to get back on track after a poor shooting performance against St. Bonaventure, George Mason is on the road against the reigning Atlantic 10 champions, Saint Joseph’s.
In Hagan Arena on Tuesday night, the Patriots (11-5, 1-2) will be playing against a defense that will allow Mason to run their system. For the first time in conference play, Marquise Moore will be able to drive and kick the ball out with ease. Initiating the regular offense will allow the Patriots to get off to a quick start.
Saint Joseph’s (8-6, 2-1), against Atlantic 10 opponents, have run a spread defense, trusting their one-on-one matchups and keeping a post player inside to guard the rim. For the teams they have faced it has been successful.
Against George Washington, Rhode Island, and Fordham, Saint Joseph’s held the best field goal defense in the league at 39 percent.
This defensive style plays right into Moore’s hands for the Patriots. Matching up against spread defenses allows him to quickly penetrate the lane, and either score or find a quick dish out. Although the Hawks have bigs, Moore should be in double-double territory this game (18.0 points and 10.6 rebounds on the season).
Last time these two teams met, Moore led the team with 21 points and seven rebounds in an 87-73 loss.
Jalen Jenkins (11.1 ppg) will benefit from this as well, winning his one-on-one matchups throughout the season. Likely going up on Markell Lodge, who has 15 blocks and five points per game on the season, Jenkins will have a slight height advantage.
With slow close-outs by the Hawks and Mason shooters staying out of the paint, this should be a strong offensive game for the green and gold.
On offense for the Hawks, they spread the court out as well but are not particularly strong from long range. Ranking in the bottom of the NCAA in 3-pt attempts, the Hawks get their scoring from inside the paint.
Collapsing the defense around the ball in the paint, like the Patriots have done all season, should force long shots and poor turnovers by Saint Joseph’s.
Without their leading scorer, Shavar Newkirk (20.3 ppg), who is out for the remainder of the season, the Hawks have called on junior, James Demery, a forward to replace the athletic guard in the lineup. In only four games, two being starts, Demery averages 16 points and 6.5 rebounds and is a threat to shot from distance as well.
Running the point now is sophomore Lamarr Kimble who scores 14 points a game while also dishing out 4.5 assists.
Preventing offense rebounds, and getting their fair share, will be the difference maker in this contest for George Mason. When outrebounding opponents, Mason is 9-1 on the season.
Scoring will be able to come all over the court offensively as long as the Patriots can create a scoring threat in the paint. If Jenkins gets into foul trouble and Moore’s groin acts up then the Hawks will be able to clamp down on a one-dimensional offense.
In the preseason the Hawks were selected to finish ninth in the conference, but already have a win over the Colonials who were picked ahead of them. With Mason performing above expectations, this matchup will be another chance for the Patriots to pick up a middle of the conference win and a tiebreaker. This is the lone matchup between the two teams on the season.
Prediction: Mason 80 Saint Joseph’s 68
Prediction Record: 11-5