Men's Basketball Takes on VCU on Saturday at 2:30 P.M.
March 5, 2010
Richmond, Va. - The George Mason men's basketball team will open play in the CAA Tournament on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. when the fourth-seeded Patriots take on the fifth-seeded Rams of VCU in the quarterfinal round. Mason earned a first-round bye and did not play on Friday while the Rams played 12th-seeded Delaware, beating the Blue Hens, 66-49. The game between Mason and VCU will air on The Comcast Network as well as Cox Channel 74 and be broadcast on WWRC 1260 AM.
The Patriots (17-13) and Rams (21-8) met once in the regular season, at Patriot Center. Mason rallied from a 15-point deficit to force overtime and beat VCU, 82-77. Mason has not beaten VCU in the city of Richmond since February of 2006 when Mason rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat VCU, 73-61. This is the fourth time the two teams have met in the CAA Tournament but all three previous meetings came in the Championship Game with VCU winning all three of those battles, in 2004, 2007 and 2009. Mason and VCU have combined for the past three CAA titles.
The Rams are led by Larry Sanders, the CAA Defensive Player of the Year and the runner-up for the CAA Player of the Year award. He averages 14.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 54.5 percent from the field. In the first meeting between the teams, he was held to 13 points, four rebounds and one block while shooting 5 of 12 from the field. Joey Rodriguez, a third-team All-CAA performer this year, torched Mason for 24 points on 6 of 11 shooting from behind the arc. He led the CAA this year in assists and steals and he had seven assists against Mason with one steal.
Mike Morrison played a huge role in Mason's win over the Rams. He not only guarded Sanders, but he had one of the best games of his career with a career-high 18 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 8 of 10 from the field. Cam Long had 19 points while Louis Birdsong had 13 points and Ryan Pearson had 12. Mason had 44 points in the paint and played one of the top rebounding teams in the CAA even.
The Rams finished the season 7-3 in their final 10 games with the losses coming to Mason, at Old Dominion in the season finale in a game the Monarchs needed to win to lock up the tournament's first seed, and at James Madison. The wins came at home over Towson, Georgia State, Old Dominion, Drexel, Akron and JMU.
Mason finished the year on a 2-6 stretch, including four losses in the final five games. In the final two weeks of the season, Mason lost to William & Mary by three, College of Charleston by two, beat Delaware by two and lost to Northeastern by two. Free throw shooting played a role in the losses and nearly cost Mason the win at Delaware. In the loss to Northeastern, Mason was just 9 of 14 from the line. Against College of Charleston, the Patriots were just 18 of 31 from the charity stripe and against William & Mary, Mason was 8 of 13. At Delaware, the Patriots were 17 of 32 from the line.
Long will be the key for Mason to make its fourth straight trip to the CAA title game. The junior guard who was named second-team All-CAA averaged 16.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 52.1 percent from the field in January as Mason opened the year 10-1 in conference play, but in February, he averaged 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and shot just 25 percent from the field. He has had big games against VCU in the past, including 24 points last year in the regular season, as well as in the CAA Tournament, such as last year scoring 14 points, six rebounds and five assists in the semifinals against Towson.
Prior to the game, join fellow Patriots fans at Penny Lane Pub, located just blocks from the Coliseum. After the game, join President Alan Merten along with Mason alumni and friends at the Hilton Garden Inn-Richmond Downtown.