James Madison (18-8, 8-6 CAA) will travel to Fairfax, Va. for a rematch with George Mason (20-5, 12-2 CAA) in a Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball game Saturday in the sold-out Patriot Center at 5 p.m. The game will be televised by Comcast SportsNet (Mid-Atlantic) as well as The Comcast Network (Philadelphia).
JMU is locked into a tie for fifth place with Drexel in the CAA standings, while George Mason, one of the nation's hottest teams, sits atop the league in a tie for first place with VCU. The Patriots are riding the nation's third-longest winning streak at 10 games, are 12-0 at home, and rank in the top 15 nationally for wins (20) and winning percentage (.800).
Saturday's matchup will be between two of the CAA's top high-powered offenses. The Dukes are ranked third in the CAA in points scored per game averaging 72.3 overall, (73.0 in CAA games) and also rank second in field-goal percentage shooting 45.8% (46.1% CAA).
George Mason leads the CAA averaging 74.2 points per game, ranks first in field-goal percentage shooting 48.1%, and sits 17th nationally for scoring margin at +12.7. The Patriots also rank first in the CAA in three-point field goal percentage shooting 39.6% and in assists with an impressive 14.9 assists per game.
JMU is coming off a 68-54 comeback win Wednesday night over Drexel in the Daskalakis Athletic Center. The Dukes trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half and were able to cut the deficit to three before half. Drexel had just three field goals in the final 12 minutes of the game as JMU sealed the victory on free throws, hitting 9-of-10 in the final two minutes to record the win.
Senior forward Denzel Bowles posted his 13th double-double of the season with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Junior guard Humpty Hitchens contributed 14 points, including 11 in the first 12 minutes, and sophomore guard Devon Moore added 12 points and six assists. Forward Samme Givens led Drexel with a double-double of 22 points and 11 boards in the loss.
The Dukes are led this season by Bowles, who is averaging 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He is also shooting a team-high 58.3% from the field, which ranks second in the CAA and 14th in NCAA Division I. Sophomore Julius Wells is the team's second-leading scorer with 11.0 points per game and he is shooting 36.4% from behind the arc. Moore is contributing 10.4 points per game and leads the team in assists with 4.2 per game. Junior Rayshawn Goins rips down 7.1 rebounds per game and also contributes 9.9 points per game.
George Mason extended its winning streak on Tuesday night after defeating UNCW 78-63 on the road. The Patriots shot 63% from the field in the second half (17-27) to pull away from a two-point halftime lead and secure the win. Junior guard Andre Cornelius had a season-high 25 points while hitting a career-high seven three-pointers in the contest. Senior Cam Long and junior Ryan Pearson contributed 17 and 13 points, respectively.
George Mason's Ryan Pearson is a player to watch, as he was named the National Player of the Week by ESPN.com. The junior forward averaged 18.5 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game last week. He posted back-to-back double-doubles with 19 points and 12 rebounds in a victory over Hofstra followed by 18 points and 11 boards in a triumph over ODU. Pearson, who shot 53.8% from the floor, has scored double figures in 17 consecutive games. He was also named the CAA Men's Basketball Co-Player of the week.
The Patriots are led by senior guard Cam Long, who is averaging 15.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Pearson is not far behind averaging 14.4 points per game and also ripping down an average of 6.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Luke Hancock plays a well-rounded game as leads the team in assists with 4.6 per game, tallies 11.6 points per game, and also grabs 4.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard Andre Cornelius rounds out the double-digit scoring for George Mason averaging 10.0 points per game.
In the previous contest on January 22nd, George Mason used a 17-2 run midway through the second half to gain the lead and hold off the Dukes to record a 75-73 win in the Convocation Center on ESPNU. Bowles had a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds and he tied a career-high with six blocks. Goins just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, and Wells added 11 points. Long led the Patriots with 30 points hitting 8-of-9 field goals, including all four of his three-point attempts, while also going 10-for-13 at the line.
The Dukes will continue their road stretch traveling to Towson, Md. on February 15th to face the Towson Tigers. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. It will be the third consecutive road game for JMU, which closes the season with four of its last five away from the Convo.