George Mason Vs UCONN
George Mason/Connecticut Game Preview
#11 George Mason takes on #1 Connecticut in the Washington DC Region
CONNECTICUT HUSKIES: The Huskies made it into the Elite Eight, but it was not easy. In fact, Connecticut has had a rough time in every one of its tournament games, but somehow, they’ve managed to survive each one. Despite the fact that Coach Calhoun’s guys hit a greater percentage of their shots from the field and went to the foul line twice as much as their opponents, they found themselves on the brink of elimination. Poor ball handling, the Huskies turned it over 26 times and had it stolen 19, was at the root of the team’s problems. The good news is Connecticut had substantial scoring contributions from six of its players, with all hitting for double digits. They shot 52% from the field and from the 3-point mark, while converting 72% of their foul shots. These are all great figures. The fact is, once again, the Huskies inability to display solid, fundamental ball handling skills came to the forefront as it did against Albany. Junior guard Marcus Williams continued his solid scoring, leading UCONN with 26 points, while senior swingman Hilton Armstrong and junior swingman Josh Boone were dominant under the boards with 9 and 11 rebounds respectively. Each player also contributed 13 points. By the end of the five-minute overtime, the Huskies came out on top by a comfortable 6-point margin (98-92)
(CONNECTICUT NEEDS TO: This team can score and rebound with the best of them, but they’ve shown a lack of discipline when it comes to ball control. Against a very tough Washington team that flaw almost proved to be fatal. From the floor, the Huskies had 51 chances, while their turnovers gave the Washington Huskies 80 chances! If UCONN gives the ball away like that to George Mason, a team that makes the most out of every opportunity, they’ll be out of the tournament. Connecticut does a good job of spreading the scoring around, which makes them tough to defend against; they are also very good about keeping opponents off the foul line. But George Mason, which is a much better ball handling team than the Huskies, also gives very few fouls. Connecticut cannot count on walking to the foul line as much as they have in the best. Coach Calhoun should have two words for them as they head into the Elite Eight—“No turnovers!”)
GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS: Defense, defense, and more defense helped the eleventh seed George Mason Patriots to a comfortable 63-55 victory over seventh seed Wichita State. Mason also knocked in 8 three-pointers, shooting 50% from downtown! Hitting 65% from the foul line and 45% from the field, the Patriots controlled the Shockers, who were only good for 31% from the court and 12% from the 3-point mark. George Mason’s sophomore guard Will Thomas earned a double-double, scoring 10 points and handling 10 rebounds. Sophomore swingman Folarin Campbell continued his string of solid scoring performances with a team high 16 points. Against Wichita State, four of the Patriots’ starters hit for double digits. Mason finished the first-half of the game in front by a score of 35-19. In the second-half, the Patriots continued to keep the Shockers out of their rhythm, holding swingman P.J. Couisnard to a total of 4 points. Throughout the game, George Mason played consistent, focused ball, which continues to be their tournament hallmark. Although they have no March Madness experience, this eleventh seed possesses a knack for playing like they’ve been here before.
(GEORGE MASON NEEDS TO: Thus far George Mason has met and beaten an impressive number 6 seed (Michigan), last year’s national champ and this year’s three seed (North Carolina) and a very hot seventh seed (Wichita State). They have not been intimidated, and they have not panicked. Their disciplined play has helped them control each game, create and take advantage of opportunities, and make very few mistakes. They must continue to play as a team on both sides of the ball. In meeting the Huskies, Mason has a golden opportunity to exploit their opponent’s carelessness. In order to win, the Patriots will have to do just that. UCONN is a fine shooting team, which means George Mason must make the most out of every scoring opportunity, while cutting down on Connecticut’s chances. Wichita had 20 more scoring opportunities from the field than Mason had; they don’t want to give the number one seed Huskies that type of opening. Also, this team must not waste fouls; they’ve been a well-disciplined defensive team and that has served them well. If the Patriots continue to play smart ball and take advantage of Connecticut’s miscues, they can find themselves in the Final Four.)
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