At intermission of last night's game against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, George Mason guard Brian Miller heard the words all shooters love to hear.
After taking but two shots in the first half, Miller, the Patriots' three-point specialist, was told by his teammates and coach to start shooting more. The senior wasted no time following instructions and burned the Retrievers for 21 points, including six from long range, to spark his team to a 112-91 triumph before 1,967 at Patriot Center.
It was George Mason's ninth straight victory and fourth time this season it has surpassed the 100 mark.
George Mason Coach Rick Barnes could not have asked for a better effort by his players going into Saturday night's big Colonial Athletic Association game with visiting Richmond. At 8-3 in the conference, George Mason (16-6) can extend its lead over the Spiders (6-3), who share second place with UNC-Wilmington.
George Mason shot 56 percent from the field, 13 of 18 from three-point range, outrebounded the Retrievers, 45-29, and committed only 10 turnovers. Kenny Sanders had 32 points and 14 rebounds, Steve Smith finished with a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds and Miller had 24 points. Amp Davis had eight points and 10 assists.
Ken Reynolds led the Retrievers (11-11) with 17 points.
"It was the kind of game we hoped for -- everyone got involved and we just shot the lights out," Barnes said. "In the first half, we would get four and five shots and the ball wouldn't drop. I thought, oh, oh, one of those nights. But we got our tempo going and shot very well."
The second half had barely started before the Patriots went to work to build upon their 46-42 halftime lead. Miller opened the half with a three-pointer and Robert Dykes followed with a dunk and a layup for a 53-42 lead.
"They told me to shoot at halftime and, once I hit the first couple, I didn't think I'd miss," said Miller, who missed tying his career high by two. "We finally got in the groove and hit some baskets." See Summary, Page D8