George Mason-Saint Louis Preview
Saint Louis is on the verge of not only matching the longest win streak in school history, but also its best conference start in more than 60 years.
It would seem to have a good shot at reaching those milestones considering George Mason’s struggles.
The 19th-ranked Billikens go for a 14th straight victory Saturday in their first meeting with the visiting Patriots, who are mired in their longest losing streak in 17 years.
Saint Louis (19-2, 6-0 Atlantic 10) hasn’t lost since falling to No. 4 Wichita State on Dec. 1, and coach Jim Crews said after Wednesday’s 77-57 win over Richmond the biggest reason his team is on this run is nobody’s ”worrying about the winning streak.”
The Billikens have twice before won 14 in a row, most recently in 1993-94.
It appeared Saint Louis would be challenged by the Spiders given they were riding a four-game win streak that included a victory over then-No. 13 Massachusetts. A close game never materialized, however, as Saint Louis led by 24 points in the first half, shot 51.9 percent and held Richmond to a season-low 31.7 percent.
”We played well and they probably didn’t play well,” Crews said. ”I wouldn’t look too deep into it.”
Jordair Jett, one of five seniors to start for Saint Louis, posted his second straight double-double with 21 points and a career-best 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-1 guard had 10 points and a career-high11 assists against Duquesne on Jan. 22 and had 18 points and nine boards four days earlier.
”As long as we get the win, that’s all I’m worried about," said Jett, who is averaging 17.8 points in A-10 play compared to 10.5 points in 15 non-conference games.
The Billikens are off to their best start to conference play since 1955-56, when they were in the Missouri Valley, and haven’t won their first seven league games since 1951-52.
Conference play hasn’t been as kind to George Mason (7-13, 0-6), which is still seeking its first league win as a member of the A-10.
The Patriots are off to their worst start to conference play since 1994-95, and haven’t dropped seven consecutive league games since losing their first 10 Colonial Athletic Conference contests in 1992-93. They’ve lost seven in a row overall – their longest skid since dropping eight straight from Jan. 29-Feb. 22, 1997.
George Mason has been off since allowing George Washington to shoot 54.7 percent in last Saturday’s 75-69 loss. The Patriots pulled within five points midway through the second half but then let the Colonials go on a 15-4 run.
"When we get in a spot where someone makes a run at us, we just have to hold a little tighter," Patriots coach Paul Hewitt said. "We’ve been in a lot of games. I felt like we had opportunities to be there, but they stretched it out and kind of kept us at bay."
George Mason’s top two scorers, Bryon Allen (14.2 ppg) and Sherrod Wright (14.0), combined for 18 points against George Washington.
The Patriots are shooting 27.0 percent from 3-point range during a six-game road skid and breaking out of that funk won’t be easy against Saint Louis.
The Billikens, winners of 27 of 29 at home, are among the nation’s leaders in scoring defense at 58.0 points per game and opponent 3-point shooting at 27.6 percent. They’re also one of the A-10’s top rebounding teams, averaging 40.0 in conference play.
Dwayne Evans leads the Billikens in rebounding at 6.3 per game and is averaging a team-best 15.0 points.