Mason, Drexel battling for contention

Mason, Drexel battling for contention
January 31, 2013, 3:30 am
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Go back to the season's start. Any CAA or college basketball observer would have surely said a matchup between George Mason and Drexel factor's into the conference title chase.

Maybe Thursday's matchup at the Patriot Center will ultimately have such ramifications. Right now, both the Patriots and Dragons are simply seeking a needed victory. The crucial CAA contest tips at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.

George Mason (12-8, 5-3) suffered a 20-point loss at Northeastern on Sunday, finishing on the wrong end of a 22-6 closing run. Before that sound defeat, the Patriots had won three straight and five of six behind Sherrod Wright's offense and pressure defense. Starting Thursday they play three games in five days, the last two on the road.

The Patriots, tied for third place, sit one game ahead of the preseason CAA favorite Dragons. Drexel (8-12, 4-4) sputtered out of the gates, losing six of eight games. Considering the Dragons' injuries this season, maybe tripped from the start is the better phrase. Three straight wins put coach Bruiser Flint's crew back in the mix, thought the Dragons lost at home to Delaware on Monday.

George Mason recently switched to a three-guard starting lineup, a look Drexel also sports. The 6-foot-4 Wright averages 18.1 points and has scored at least 20 points 10 times this season. The junior must keep up the pace considering he is the Patriots only double figure scorer on the season.

Against Northeastern, Wright finished with 12 points. Vertrail Vaughns scored 13 off the bench while the other backcourt starters - Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards - missed nine of 11 shots and scored four points.

Wright ranks third on the CAA scoring list, one slot behind Drexel's Daimon Lee. The Baltimore native, who averages 18.2 points, scored a career-high 30 against Delaware. The sophomore receives considerable passing help from fellow guard Frantz Massenat (14.4 ppg), the CAA's assists leader.

Drexel won the only head-to-head meeting last season, but George Mason has won four straight in Fairfax.

The Patriots, now 2.5 games behind Northeastern, could take over second place in the CAA with a win over Drexel and at James Madison on Saturday. George Mason then stays on the road for its last conference game ever at Old Dominion on Monday.