CAA weekend previews: Must win for Mason?

CAA weekend previews: Must win for Mason?
January 18, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Drexel (5-11, 1-3) at William & Mary (7-9, 1-4) - 2 p.m., Comcast SportsNet

The Dragons falling from a borderline Top 25 squad and preseason CAA frontrunner to a squad near the back of the conference back and in desperate need of a win is one of the season's stunners. Injuries have played a part for coach Bruiser Flint's squad. So has coming up short in the closing minutes of their last three games, all conference losses. After falling to Towson by three points and CAA-leader Northeastern in overtime, Drexel was outscored 13-5 over the five minutes in a 51-43 loss at James Madison last Saturday. The Dragons played the Dukes without injured swingman Damion Lee, the CAA's second-leading scorer, and starting forward Daryl McCoy. Both players are questionable for Saturday's game.

One could make the argument the 2012-13 season has already been a successful one for Tribe, seeing as they have more wins then all of last campaign. Problem is that same statement could been made a few days before Christmas. Since defeating Division III Salisbury State by 33 points on Dec. 21, W&M has dropped six straight, the last four in conference by nearly 12 points per game.  Wing guard Marcus Thornton (Bishop McNamara) ranks one slot behind Lee on the CAA scoring chart, averaging 18.0 per game and the Tribe are the top shooting team in the conference.

Hofstra (2-2, 5-12) at George Mason (10-7, 3-2) - 5 p.m., NBC  Sports Network

There are far too many games remaining on the schedule for one on Jan. 19 to be considered a must win. Then again, when looking at the Patriots upcoming schedule, the matchup against the Pride arguably qualifies. George Mason has won three of its last four games, including Tuesday's 68-57 victory over James Madison behind Sherrod Wright's 23 points, though two of the triumphs came versus conference cellar dwellers Old Dominion and William & Mary. After facing Hofstra, George Mason plays four of five on the road including consecutive games at Towson and Northeastern. The Tigers have been one of the nation's biggest surprises and the Patriots lost to the Huskies in their CAA opener.

Wright (17.9 ppg), the only Patriot averaging over eight points per game, has tallied at least 19 points in eight of his last nine games. Against Hofstra, George Mason has won the last three games played at the Patriot Center.

After ending non-conference play with an eight-game losing streak and losing two of their top four scorers due to disciplinary reasons, the Pride have played .500 ball in the CAA despite a 65-60 loss at Northeastern on Tuesday. Guard Tarab Buie (14.3) leads Hofstra in scoring.

*Georgia State (7-11, 2-3) at Old Dominion (2-15, 0-5) - 7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet

The Panthers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 16-point home over W&M on Tuesday behind 21 points from junior forward Manny Atkins. Meanwhile no matter they play, the Monarchs cannot find a path to victory lane. Somehow Blaine Taylor's club downed Virginia last month, but ODU has lost five straight since, three by five points or less.

Also in the CAA...

*James Madison at Towson (12 p.m.) - Tigers' Forward Jerrelle Benimon ranks third nationally with 11.6 rebounds per game and is shooting 62.1 percent (23 of 37) over his last three games.

*Northeastern at Delaware ( 2 p.m.) - The first place Huskies take their 5-0 conference record on the road. After opening CAA play with three straight wins, the Blue Hens lost 69-66 at home to Towson despite 16 points each from the inside-outside combination of Jamelle Hagins and Devon Saddler.

Also on Comcast SportsNet...

*SMU at UTEP (4 p.m.) - Larry Brown has coached the Mustangs to an 11-8 record, but just 1-3 in conference while the Miners have won six of their last eight games including two of three Conference USA games.