George Mason vs. Delaware: Patriots hope to keep streak alive

January 31, 2012
George Mason at Delaware

Where: Bob Carpenter Center, Newark, Del. When: 7 p.m.

Records: Patriots 18-5, 10-1 CAA; Blue Hens 9-12, 5-6.

Outlook: The first-place Patriots have won six straight and 11 of 12to retain a one-game lead in the CAA, but many of those victories have come in tense affairs against much weaker foes: The past four wins were by an average of eight points against teams with a combined 9-35 league record. They’ll hope to avoid another troublesome game against an opponent from the middle of the standings on Wednesday, a seventh-place Delaware side that has lost 9 of 12 but features two impact players: sophomore G Devon Saddler, who is second in the conference in scoring at 18.9 ppg, and junior F Jamelle Hagins (12.2 ppg, 10.7 rebounds). Saddler has scored at least 20 points nine times this season. He had 21 in the first meeting with the Patriots, who rushed to an 89-63 victory two weeks ago in Fairfax. George Mason senior F Ryan Pearson posted 24 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in that game. Pearson was named CAA co-player of the week Monday after averaging 18.7 points and 12.3 rebounds in three victories. Also Monday, the Patriots learned they’ll play Lamar (13-8) in their Bracket Busters game Feb. 18 in Fairfax. The Cardinals, from the Southland Conference, are coached by Pat Knight, Bobby Knight’s son. The Patriots were hoping for a stronger pairing in order to boost their NCAA tournament credentials, but a mediocre RPI ranking of 102 damaged their case.

— Steven Goff

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