The Patriots look to bounce back from an awful performance at Iona this weekend as they head to Princeton tonight. Princeton, although being in the Ivy ranks and not named Harvard, will not be an easy opponent tonight for George Mason. They almost upset Butler on the road earlier this year, have a ton of size, don’t turn the ball over and are a very good three-point shooting team. They are in fact one of the tallest teams in the country and also have a very efficient offense to go along with that. The Tigers don’t exactly play uptempo offense and often their best defense is to lull opposing team’s to sleep offensively.
The broken record continues for George Mason as perimeter defense will again be a big key in this game. Against Iona they left the front door open around the basket and as a result the Gaels walked in for easy buckets. Princeton is by no means as athletic at attacking the rim but they do have size inside and can score just as easy if Mason plays that way again. But from what we have seen the Patriots also have a tendency to leave the perimeter wide open in the beginning of games. We saw it against American and St. Francis (PA) and those teams weren’t exactly a group of three-point shooting snipers. They have let opposing teams set the tempo of the game early and they can’t let Princeton do that tonight. If they let this team jack up threes right from the tip it could be a long night.
Turning over the ball is the Patriots’ biggest problem right now. Currently Kenpom has their turnover percentage (turnovers divided by possessions) ranked #338 out of 351 teams. Bryon Allen back for his second straight game should hopefully help settle this issue. However, guys like Marko Gujanicic, Johnny Williams, and Jalen Jenkins really need to handle the ball better in the post because it’s killing them.
For George Mason to win tonight they need to force their tempo on Princeton and attack the basket while continuing to hit the offensive glass. If they try to trade three-point shots in a low scoring game I don’t think they will escape with a victory. Mason has a big athletic advantage with their offense going against Princeton’s defense. They just need to play smarter basketball and not dig themselves into an early hole again.