The UMass Minutemen put their undefeated home record on the line Wednesday night at the Mullins Center as they take on the George Mason Patriots. The atmosphere is sure to be electric as the Minutemen look to continue their winning ways after dropping three of their previous four contests.
This will be the second meeting of these two teams this season. The first saw UMass sneak by with a narrow escape in Fairfax Virginia, sealing the victory with a Derrick Gordon layup in the final eight seconds to put the Minutemen on top 88-87.
George Mason has struggled this season with a disappointing record of 8-15 and a 1-8 record in Atlantic 10 play. That lone win came against the Duquesne Dukes last Saturday with a score of 74-68.
For UMass, Chaz Williams got back to his usual self during last Sundays tilt against Rhode Island, contributing 21 points along with seven rebounds. The Minutemen bowed out of the AP Top 25 poll when they lost three out of four games during a rough stretch in late January, however they still have a strong record at 19-4 with a 6-3 conference record that puts them in fourth in the ultra-competitive A-10.
The bright spot this season for George Mason has been the play of senior guard duo of Byron Allen and Sherrod Wright, who were instrumental in securing that victory over Duquesne with Wright dropping a game-high 23 points and Allen adding in 17 of his own.
The back court of Williams and Derrick Gordon will be tasked with slowing down the Patriots experienced guards.
Offense has been a struggle for the Patriots this season where they rank in the bottom half of the country in points, rebounds, and assists per game. They could run into a problem if they get into a shootout with UMass who averages 77.3 points per game, which is good for 49th in the country.
Look for human highlight reel Cady Lalanne to punish the Patriots on the glass and for him to throw down at least one SportsCenter quality dunk. The paint should be open for Lalanne and fellow big man Raphiael Putney. With four Minutemen scoring in double figures this season the Patriots will have a tough time shutting down this balanced attack offense led by Williams.
If UMass wants to get back into the conversation of being a true contender in the A-10 tournament this is the kind of game that they need to win. With VCU and Saint Louis still on the schedule they need to secure every win they can.