George Mason (7-4) at South Florida (7-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: USF Sun Dome (9,662) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: Big East Network/MASN. Home Record: GMU 3-1, USF 6-2. Away Record: GMU 1-1, USF 1-1. Neutral Record: GMU 3-2, USF 0-0. Conference Record: GMU 0-0, USF 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The South Florida Bulls take aim at a third straight win on Saturday when they welcome George Mason to the Sun Dome.
South Florida won a thriller its last time out, as Victor Rudd scored a game- high 29 points and hit a number of clutch shots down the stretch in the Bulls' 87-84, triple overtime win over the Bowling Green Falcons.
USF trailed, 60-53, with 45 seconds left in regulation before Jawanza Poland hit the first of two crucial 3-pointers for the Bulls and Anthony Collins beat two defenders to the hoop for a layup with 14 seconds to play. Rudd then tied the game with 3.8 seconds left and followed that up with a game-tying 3- pointer with 28 seconds left in the second overtime.
The USBWA National Player of the Week, Rudd also hit the go-ahead basket with 13 seconds left in the third OT.
Just like the team from a season ago that went to the NCAA Tournament, this year's Bulls are one of the toughest on the defensive end of the floor in the nation, holding opponents to just 38.9 percent field goal shooting.
George Mason, meanwhile, bounced back from an overtime loss at the hands of Northern Iowa to pull off a thrilling win over Richmond, as Sherrod Wright buried a buzzer beating 3-pointer to give the Patriots a 67-64 victory.
This will be the first meeting between the schools, but George Mason is just 2-16 against current members of the Big East.
Wright scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, for George Mason, which has won two of its last three games. Wright leads GMU with 16.9 points per game and he's shooting 55.7 percent from the field, which is among the best in the Colonial Athletic Association. He's been on a tear of late, netting 20 or more points in each of the last three games, making him the first Patriot to do so since Cam Long in January 2010. If Wright can eclipse the 20-point mark on Saturday, he would be the first Patriot since Jason Miskiri in January 1999 to score 20+ in four straight games. Wright is also second on the team in rebounds (4.9 rpg) behind Erik Copes (5.4 rpg). Redshirt junior forward Johnny Williams (7.8 ppg) is second in scoring.
South Florida has won five of its last six thanks to its depth, as a number of players are capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (12.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Rudd (11.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Collins (10.0 ppg, 7.8 apg) all own double-digit scoring averages with Poland (9.9 ppg) just behind them.
Wright has been nearly unstoppable of late, but the Bulls could be just the team to slow him down. South Florida's well balanced offensive attack should be just enough to keep it in the win column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 68, George Mason 62
12/29 10:32:06 ET