George Mason (12-7) at Northeastern (12-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 27, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Matthews Arena (6,000) -- Boston, Massachusetts. Television: CSN-MA, PHI, NE, CSS. Home Record: GMU 6-2, NU 4-5. Away Record: GMU 3-3, NU 6-1. Neutral Record: GMU 3-2, NU 2-1. Conference Record: GMU 5-2, NU 7-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 10-10.
GAME NOTES: Two of the Colonial Athletic Association's best meet at Matthews Arena in Boston on Sunday night, as the Northeastern Huskies play host to the George Mason Patriots.
George Mason was in the midst of a mediocre season at the beginning of January, sitting with a 7-6 record, but since that point it has ripped off wins in five of its last six games to move all the way to second place in the CAA at 5-2. The Patriots were last in action on Wednesday, taking on the upstart Towson Tigers and came away with a 77-67 victory.
The only CAA squad off to a better start than George Mason is Northeastern, which is 7-0 in league play for the first time in program history. It experienced a bit of a scare in its last outing, as William & Mary took the game to two overtime periods before finally succumbing in a 95-91 final. The Huskies' seven-game win streak has helped it overcome a lackluster 5-7 start to the campaign.
After 20 all-time meetings between these two programs, each has come away with 10 wins. Northeastern has pulled even with two straight victories, including an 84-74 verdict in the first matchup this season back on Jan. 3.
The Patriots were able to take care of business against Towson the last time out by shooting a stellar 49.1 percent from the floor and by winning the turnover battle, 16-8. Continuing his outstanding scoring pace was Sherrod Wright, who shot a mere 5-of-12 from the floor but 14-of-17 from the foul line on his way to 24 points. Wright is the CAA's second-leading scorer, draining 50 percent of his field goal attempts for 18.4 ppg, while also leading the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg) and steals (1.2 spg). Bryon Allen was also impressive against Towson, missing just one of his seven field goal attempts for 16 points, while dishing out six assists against no turnovers. George Mason's offensive attack is modest at best (65.7 ppg), and other than Wright, no player averages more than 7.2 ppg, but it has found success thanks in large part to the league's top-ranked scoring defense (62.2 ppg).
Northeastern saw its 16-point, second-half deficit disappear in its recent clash with William & Mary, but two overtimes later, it escaped with the four- point win to stay perfect in conference play. It was able to seal the deal by putting forth an outstanding effort from both the field overall (34-of-67) and the foul line (21-of-23). The two extra sessions allowed Joel Smith to tie a career-high with 29 points, doing so on 11-of-14 shooting. Jonathan Lee and David Walker tallied 19 and 17 points respectively, while Zach Stahl (11 points) and Quincy Ford (10 points) rounded out a balanced attack. Along with George Mason, the Huskies are one of just four CAA teams with a positive scoring margin this season, netting a league-best 69.5 ppg while allowing 68.5 ppg to opponents. Smith ranks sixth in the league in scoring (16.7 ppg) thanks mostly to his 47-of-116 showing from 3-point range (.405). Lee missed the first nine games of the season, but has since returned to average 13.4 ppg and 4.4 apg, while Ford (13.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Reggie Spencer (10.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) are important pieces to the puzzle as well.
Something has to give in a matchup between the league's top scoring offense and its best defensive squad. Considering Northeastern holds the home court advantage, and it already defeated George Mason on the road earlier this year, expect the Huskies to have the Patriots' number once again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northeastern 67, George Mason 63
01/27 10:32:21 ET