George Mason Men’s Basketball News: Patriots Welcome #16/16 Dayton to Fairfax Tonight, 7 PM

By R.G. Mason

2 21 2024


WHERE: EagleBank Arena – Fairfax, Va.
WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: George Mason (17-8, 6-6), #16/16 Dayton (21-4, 11-2)
SERIES: Dayton leads, 10-5
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GAME NOTES: Click here (PDF)

FAIRFAX, Va. – The George Mason University men’s basketball team (17-8, 6-6) plays host to #16/16 Dayton (21-4, 11-2) Wednesday night in Fairfax.

Tip-off between the Patriots and Flyers is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday’s game will be televised on MASN, featuring commentary from Bill Rohland and Craig Esherick. In addition, Steve Kolbe will call the game on the GoMason Digital Network, with streaming coverage beginning at 6:45 p.m.

• Wednesday marks the first time the Patriots have welcomed a top-25 foe to EagleBank Arena since the #4/3 Flyers came to Fairfax on February 25, 2020.

• The Patriots check in at 83rd in Tuesday’s NET rankings. That’s the highest Mason has been at this point of the season in program history. The team also is No. 95 in the KenPom rankings.

• The Patriots have won two straight and are coming off a 90-67 victory over George Washington on Feb. 13 in Fairfax. Mason led by as many as 39 (78-39) midway through the second half.

• Sophomore Keyshawn Hall tallied game highs in points (20) and rebounds (12) against the Revs. He’s notched 20+ points in five of the past six games and ranks third in the A-10 in scoring in league contests (19.5 ppg).

• The Patriots scored an A-10 season-high 32 bench points against GW and are averaging 29.0 bench points over the team’s past two contests.

• The Green & Gold posted a +12 (42-30) rebounding margin against the Revs and improved to 16-3 when holding the rebounding edge this season. The Patriots have outrebounded their opponent by an average of 10.7 over the past three games and lead the A-10 in overall rebounding margin (+5.0).

• Graduate forward Amari Kelly added 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists vs. GW, while senior guard Woody Newton tied his personal best with 13 points (5-9 FG).

• Freshman Baraka Okojie is averaging 9.8 points, 3.4 assists, 2.3 steals and 27.9 minutes and is shooting 51.2 percent over Mason’s past eight games. He ranks third in the A-10 in steals in league play (1.9) and is t-10th amongst all Div. I freshmen in free throw attempts (105).

• Mason ranks 14th nationally in 2pt FG defense (.447), 21st in overall FG defense (.401) and 59th in scoring defense (67.2 ppg). That 40.1 percent FG defense mark ranks fourth best in school history.

• Hall leads the A-10 in defensive rebounds/game (7.6), rebounds/game (8.2) and double-doubles (9). In league play, he is third in the A-10 in free throw percentage (.892) and also is shooting 50.7 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from 3pt range.

• The Patriots are 12-2 at home this season and have won 26 of their past 30 in Fairfax. Mason averages 78.2 points, shoots 49.8 percent and holds a +6.8 average rebounding margin in home games this season.

• The Patriots last defeated a ranked foe on Nov. 17, 2021 when Mason won at #20/21 Maryland. The Green & Gold have never beaten a nationally-ranked opponent at home.

Sophomore guard Keyshawn Hall all is one of just three players in Mason’s A-10 era to average at least 17 points in a season (Josh Oduro, Otis Livingston II). He’s one of 14 players nationally this season to average 17+ points, 8+ rebounds and 1.5+ assists. That group includes Zach Edey (Purdue), Hunter Dickinson (Kansas), Baylor Scheierman (Creighton) and Kyle Filipowski (Duke).

Wednesday’s matchup marks the 16th all-time meeting between George Mason and Dayton. Dayton holds a 10-5 advantage in the series, although the Patriots have won four of the past seven matchups, including each of the past two. The Flyers hold a 4-3 edge in games played at EagleBank Arena. In addition to their league battles, the two programs also played a four year home-and-home series from 2007-2010, before the Patriots joined the A-10 in 2013-14.

Last season, the Patriots won inside UD Arena, 74-69, on February 25, 2023. The Patriots led 33-28 at the half and withstood a furious second-half Flyer run in which Dayton built a 51-45 edge with 9:12 left. Mason stormed back to tie it up 66-66, then locked in after senior Josh Oduro fouled out with 2:20 left to get key stops and sink a number of critical free throws. Then-junior Ronald Polite III tied his career-high with 22 points and dished out six assists to go along with two steals in 38 minutes. The Temple Hills, Md., product also hit a crucial 8-of-8 free throw attempts and made 6-of-11 shots overall.

A LOOK AT THE #16/16 FLYERS (21-4, 11-2 A-10; NET #19, KenPom #24)
Dayton was picked to finish first in the 2023-24 A-10 Preseason Poll. The Flyers enter Wednesday’s game ranked 16th in the nation in both top-25 polls. The Flyers went 10-2 in non-conference play and picked up top-50 wins over St. John’s (88-81), SMU (65-63) and Cincinnati (82-68). UD is 11-2 to begin A-10 play. The Flyers feature the nation’s 20th-ranked offense (1.183 points/possession). Dayton leads the A-10 in field goal percentage (.476), ranks eighth nationally in 3pt percentage (.390) and commits just 9.5 turnovers/game (12th nationally).  A-10 Player of the Year candidate DaRon Holmes II leads the A-10 in scoring (20.0 ppg), field goal percentage (.554) and blocks per game (2.2). Nate Santos adds 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds/contest, while Koby Brea adds 10.4 points/contest and leads the nation in 3pt FG percentage (.486).

The Patriots hit the road for a two-game swing, beginning with a trip to the Windy City on Saturday (Feb. 24) to battle Loyola Chicago. Tip-off between the Patriots and Ramblers is set for 4:30 p.m. (ET). The game will be televised nationally on USA Network.