UMass-George Mason looking to separate from packed A-10 men’s basketball standings


Staff Writer

Published: 01-31-2023 4:53 PM

Just two games separate the No. 4 team in the Atlantic 10 Conference men’s basketball standings – surprising Fordham –  and No. 12 Rhode Island.

UMass and its Wednesday opponent George Mason (7 p.m. ESPN-Plus) are among the glut of six teams with 4-5 conference records ranging from six to 12th. That’s the difference between an opening round game and striking distance of a double bye in the conference tournament, about a month away.

The Minutemen (13-8, 4-5 A-10), currently seventh, muscled into that group with two consecutive wins. They’re on their first winning streak since mid-November to early December when they rode the momentum of winning the Myrtle Beach Invitational to six consecutive victories.

Freshman RJ Luis has been instrumental to the back to back victories. He scored 23 points against Richmond and then poured in 31 against Duquesne, winning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for the second time in his career.

George Mason (12-10, 4-5), conversely, fell back to the back after losing both games last week at VCU and home against Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks’ victory was Mason’s second consecutive home loss after a 10-0 start at EagleBank Arena.

The Patriots boast the league’s best 3-point shooting percentage, hitting 36.7 percent from around the arc. Victor Bailey Jr. makes 46.8 percent from 3-point range – leading the A-10, and Mason has four players above 35 percent.

UMass will counter with the A-10’s fourth-best long-range defense (31.7 percent).

Those marksmen orbit around big man Josh Oduro, the preseason all-conference pick averaging 15.2 points and eight rebounds (fourth in the league) per game.

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The Minutemen have lost their last four road games, all in conference play. They haven’t won on someone else’s floor since Dec. 2 at Harvard.