Revenge will be on the mind as George Mason travels to Saint Louis this Wednesday to wrap up their season series. Earlier this season, the Billikins shocked the Patriots at EagleBank Arena 63-56 as George Mason was held to an 18 point first half.
In their previous matchup, the Patriots had their worst shooting performance in half (22 percent) and Saint Louis had one of their best (38 percent in the game). The long ball shooting of freshman Jalen Johnson (5-10 from 3pt range) kept George Mason at bay, for which they had no answer.
It also did not help that Mason could not get the ball in the basket.
Since the upset, Saint Louis (6-15, 2-6) has reeled in their second conference win of the season against Massachusetts and played an inspired performance in Foggy Bottom. After previously being one of the worst offensive teams in the country, the team has now turned a corner and it is thanks to their freshmen’s three point shooting.
In their two previous contests Johnson and forward Elliott Welmer have combined for 10-21.
Attention has been given to Davell Roby (10.8 points per game), Reggie Agbeko (9.3 points, 7.7 rebounds), and senior Mike Crawford (9.0 points). Throughout the season these players have been the Billikins offensive spark and now that opponents defense have to spread out, they are getting better looks.
George Mason (14-7, 4-4) understands the capabilities of the Saint Louis offense after their last contest. The bigger issue though is Mason’s performance when the offense hits a wall.
LAST GAME: PATRIOTS SWEEP SEASON SERIES WITH UMASS
Against the Billikins, and in another home match against George Washington, the Patriots often struggled to get the ball to the hoop and see it go through the basket. When Marquise Moore (17.9 points, 10.8 rebounds) and Jalen Jenkins (11.0 points) cannot dictate play in the paint, Mason’s shooters throw up blanks.
Fortunately Otis Livingston II has gotten back into form his past two games. Shooting 14-28 and bringing home 19.5 points a contest against George Washington and Massachusetts, Livingston has now added another element to Mason’s offense.
Keeping Livingston involved, as well as other jump shooters getting their call, will be enough to diversify Mason’s offense.
So far this season, Mason is 6-1 on the road and with a win in Saint Louis the team will tie their Atlantic 10 win total from last season (5). This would be with only half of conference play completed.
To make this possible here are the three keys to the game for Mason:
1. Capitalize on turnovers
2. Trust interior defense and closeout on shooters
3. Draw fouls in the paint
Saint Louis has a taller roster so getting the team in foul trouble will be important. While it may be enticing to cover the paint with all their height, the freshman can make opponents pay.
Biggest thing for Mason though, is to play their own game.
Prediction: Mason 73 Saint Louis 60
Prediction Record: 13-8