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George Mason (22-10) at Penn State (22-11)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 17th, 8:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Bryce Jordan Center (15,261) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPNU. NIT Record: GMU 3-3, PSU 17-9. Series Record: Penn State leads, 5-0.

GAME NOTES: NIT action will begin this evening when the second-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions host the seventh-seeded George Mason Patriots at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Patriots are making their seventh postseason appearance in the last 10 years, and their fourth showing in the NIT in school history. Overall the Patriots have posted a 3-3 mark in this tournament, but two of those losses have come as the visitor. This year George Mason finished with 22 victories, but closed out the year with an embarrassing, 71-50 setback to VCU in the Colonial Athletic Association title game. As for the Lions, they also grabbed 22 victories this season, which is the second most for a single season in school history. Penn State finished in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten with a 10-8 margin, but did not last long in the conference tournament, falling to Purdue in quarterfinal play. This will be the ninth appearance for Penn State in the NIT, and in those previous showings the team has accumulated a 17-9 ledger. The Lions have dominated George Mason in the all-time series, winning all five meetings, including a 67-54 victory over the Patriots in the last matchup back in 1999.

The Patriots' success this season can be attributed to the team's efforts defensively, as George Mason is holding the opposition to 60.1 ppg on a 39.7 percent shooting effort, and an even worse 30.3 percent showing from behind the arc. Unfortunately at the other end of the floor the team has not been as successful, in fact, George Mason has dealt with inconsistencies and comes into this contest with just 66.1 ppg. Cam Long has been the most reliable option for GMU, as the guard is leading the team with 11.6 ppg, and 103 assists, while also collecting 4.8 rpg. John Vaughan has also proven to be valuable, netting 10.9 ppg, while Darryl Monroe has dominated the paint, posting 10.6 ppg, to go along with a team-high 7.8 rpg.

The Nittany Lions' season was very similar to that of George Mason's, as Penn State relied more of its defensive play. The Lions have limited the opposition to just 62.1 ppg, and although teams are shooting 43.2 percent against PSU, the Lions have held the competition to just 32.8 percent from behind the arc. Inconsistencies at the offensive end of the floor has caused trouble for Penn State throughout the campaign, as the team is netting just 66.0 ppg, despite shooting a mediocre 43.9 percent. Talor Battle has been the top scoring option for Penn State this season, as the guard is posting 16.8 ppg. Battle is also leading the team with 161 assists, and is pulling down 5.4 rpg as well. Jamelle Cornley has been the main source of production in the paint, as the big man is registering 14.3 ppg, to go along with a team-best 6.2 rpg. Also making a strong contribution this year has been Stanley Pringle, who is netting 12.9 ppg, behind a very impressive 46.4 percent shooting effort from long range.

The Lions were one of the teams who saw their bubble burst this past Sunday, so expect Penn State to head into this matchup and tournament with a chip on its shoulder. It will likely be a low-scoring affair, but the Lions should have no trouble moving on to the next round.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 69, George Mason 60

03/17 10:30:27 ET