Standing between Indiana and a win to snap a two-game skid in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Tip-Off Classic is a program that made a name for themselves by crashing the 2006 Final Four: George Mason.
The 2-2 Patriots nearly knocked off No. 5 Villanova on Thursday and played No. 19 Georgia Tech to a tough 70-62 loss on Friday.
Like the Hoosiers, George Mason are the youngest team in their conference and have just three upper classmen on their roster. Despite their youth, the Patriots were picked to finish fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The top returning player for Jim Larranaga is 6-4 junior guard Cam Long, who averaged close to 12 points and five rebounds on his way to making third team All-CAA. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, you may remember this ridiculous dunk he threw down last season on VCU. This guy is an athlete.
Long primarily played the point last season and joining him in the starting lineup this season is 5-10 sophomore Andre Cornelius, who is second on the team in scoring at 10.2 per game.
Ryan Pearson, a 6-6, 230-pound sophomore forward, is leading the Patriots in scoring (12.5) and rebounds (6.8). The lefty made the CAA all-freshman team a season ago. Joining Pearson in the the starting lineup up front are 6-8 sophomore Mike Morrison and the team’s only senior, 6-7 Louis Birdsong.
While no freshman has cracked the starting lineup, the talent the group possesses is a big reason why Larranaga’s club could contend for the CAA title.
6-7 red-shirt forward Kevin Foster led George Mason with 15 points against Georgia Tech. 6-5 forward Luke Hancock is averaging 10 ppg. And 6-4 guard Sherrod Wright, a three-star recruit who had high major offers, is expected to become a big contributor once he adapts to the college game.
Teammates at Hargrave: Maurice Creek and Hancock played together at Hargrave Military Academy.
20 years ago: Indiana won the last meeting between the two schools — 99-85 on March 17, 1989 in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first tournament appearance for George Mason. Eric Anderson scored 15 points to lead the Hoosiers.
Filed to: George Mason Patriots