Freshman Brian Miller, a graduate of Mount Vernon High School, made 11 of 15 field goal attempts and scored 23 points in his collegiate debut as the Patriots beat Bucknell in the season opener for both schools, 95-77, last night at George Mason University.
It was George Mason's 16th consecutive home-court victory over the last three years.
With a jump shot by Miller, a pair of field goals by Darin Satterthwaite and another jumper by Miller, Mason took a commanding 66-47 lead with 11:37 remaining.
The play of Miller and forward Rob Rose (18 points) was especially encouraging for the Patriots.
"I've always thought Miller was a good player," Coach Joe Harrington said. "The transition was easy because we play a similar (quick transition) style to Mount Vernon."
Many of Miller's baskets came on jump shots from between 15 and 20 feet.
"I've always been able to shoot," said Miller. "That's what they want me to do. And if I get open, I'm going to take the shot."
The Patriots led, 46-37, at the half but opened the margin to 19 with 14 straight points, all on field goals, between 15:24 and 11:37 remaining in the game.
Oddly, none of those 14 points came from star forward Carlos Yates, who led the team in scoring last year with a 22.1 average. Yates finished with 17 points on six-of-14 shooting from the field.
Mason built an early lead mostly on the play of Miller and point guard Ricky Wilson, who had 13 of his 16 points in the first half.
"I think Brian Miller and Ricky Wilson carried us early on," said Harrington. "Rob Rose and Carlos were a little slow getting started."
But Rose, who had five steals, warmed up in the second half, scoring 12 of his points.
Mason scored the game's first eight points on baskets by four of its five starters, who exhibited good balance with four (Wilson, Miller, Yates and Rose) scoring in double figures.
Alternating between a full-court press, a man to man and a half-court zone trap, Harrington used all but one of his 13 players in the first half to build the nine-point lead.