Northern Iowa (5-3) at George Mason (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 8, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Patriot Center (10,000) -- Fairfax, Virginia. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: Northern Iowa 5-0, George Mason 3-0. Away Record: Northern Iowa 0-0, George Mason 1-1. Neutral Record: Northern Iowa 0-3, George Mason 2-2. Conference Record: Northern Iowa 0-0, George Mason 0-0. Series Record: George Mason leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The George Mason Patriots put their 14-game home winning streak on the line on Saturday when they battle the Northern Iowa Panthers at the Patriot Center.
The Patriots, who are coming off a 74-63 home win over UMBC on Tuesday, have captured 32 of their last 33 games as the host dating back to the 2010-11 season. The lone defeat in that span came against Duquesne last December 21.
Northern Iowa, which begins a three-game road trip tonight, earned a 76-59 triumph over Northern Colorado on Wednesday. It marked the second straight win for the Panthers and put some distance between them and a three-game slide prior to that.
The only other meeting between the two teams came two seasons ago in Cedar Falls when the Patriots defeated the Panthers, 77-71, in a BracketBuster game.
Jake Koch scored 17 points in NIU's most recent victory, Koch was 6-of-8 from the field, as the Panthers registered a season-high 21 assists en route to their 10th straight victory at the McCleod Center. Seth Tuttle added 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists while Marc Sonnen tallied 12 points and four assists. Anthony James led the Panthers with six assists. The Panthers shot 59.1 percent from the field in the second half. The Panthers are paced by Deon Mitchell. The sophomore guard, who averages 13.4 points and is shooting better than 55 percent from the field, had been sidelined earlier this month due to a bruised heel. Sonnen, who has made at least one 3-pointer in 18 straight games, is third (8.6) in scoring, just behind Koch (10.8), who also leads the team in rebounding (6.6 rpg). UNI ranks No. 13 in the nation in free throw percentage (77.5 percent) through the first eight games of the season.
Redshirt junior guard Sherrod Wright netted a season-high 23 points, leading the Patriots against UMBC. Freshman forward Marko Gujanicic (14), junior forward Jonathan Arledge (11) and sophomore forward/center Erik Copes (10) also posted season-highs in scoring. Wright leads the team with 16 points per game and he's shooting 52.1 percent from the field, which is seventh-best in the Colonial Athletic Association. He's also the team leader in rebounds (5.2 rpg). Redshirt junior forward Johnny Williams (8.1 ppg) is second in scoring. Although the Patriots have the second-lowest point total (61.4) in the CAA, they allow only 58.4, the lowest in the conference.
Defense is driving the Patriots' success this season as they allow opponents to shoot only 38.7 percent from the field, the top mark in the CAA. Expect them to extend their home winning streak to 15, but barely against a team that also holds its opponents to less than 59 points a game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: George Mason 68, Northern Iowa 65
12/08 10:31:43 ET