On January 9th, in my article entitled "Butler, Detroit and CAA Saturday", I talked about how George Mason's Cam Long needed "to step it up". Going into their game vs. UNCW, Long was only shooting 27.7 percent from beyond the arc. Well it took him one more bad game vs the Seahawks (which Mason still won) before Long did indeed step it up. In his last three games, Long is shooting 64 percent from the floor (20 of 31) and 7 of 14 from beyond the arc. Long has now raised his three point FG percentage to 32.2 percent. Long scored 27 last night vs. Hofstra and 24 the game before vs. Madison. Combine a streaking Long with the solid Ryan Pearson, and you have a formidable one-two punch for the Patriots.
One more tidbit. Starting next season, George Mason- Northeastern games will get a little more interesting to follow. That's because Northeastern has recruited 6 foot 10 Ryan Pierson to play for the Huskies. And of course, you have Mason's Ryan Pearson. Can't wait for those broadcasts. "Pearson with the layup!" Or is it "Pierson with the layup!" Or the best yet, "Ryan Pearson blocks Ryan Pierson's shot!" Glad I am not a statistician.
The big game in the CAA tonight pits William Mary at VCU. How seriously is VCU taking this game? How about you click here to find out. The Tribe defeated VCU by one at Williamsburg to start the CAA season. With a win tonight, VCU would pull within one game of William and Mary for the fourth and final first round bye spot in the CAA (I know I mention this often, but having a first round bye is HUGE in the four day CAA tournament). The Siegel Center will be rocking and the Mary will try to win their first game at Siegel since the first game the Rams and the Tribe played at the Siegel Center. Since then, VCU has won nine straight.
After watching Mason trounce Hofstra at the Mack Center, I got home in time to watch the second half of Northern Iowa - Wichita State on the U. After being up twelve at the half, Wichita State withstood a 10-0 run by Northern Iowa to start the second half and won 60-51. The Panthers got within two 29-27 after that 10-0 run, but never caught the Shockers. The turning point of the game was after Northern Iowa's Adam Koch hit a foul shot for a three point play to cut the deficit to six 48-42 with 3:25 left. Wichita State immediately went down the court and worked it inside to J.T. Turley for a two point layup to put the Shockers back out by eight, 50-42. By the time Northern Iowa got the score within five, it was about a minute left and the Panthers had to foul.
Wichita State (17-3, 6-2 MVC) handed Northern Iowa (16-2, 7-1 MVC) its first loss in sixteen games, its first loss in Valley conference play and probably knocked it out of the Top 25 (which might be better anyway, so the Panthers can continue to win under the radar). The teams have a rematch at UNI on February 3rd.
Finally, can someone explain to me why Xavier at #17 Temple is not televised nationally tonight but South Florida-Cincinnati is? Two teams that have made the NCAA tournament the last two seasons (and chances are they will again this season) vs. a game featuring the Big East conference doormat - the Bulls, whose last winning season was when they were in Conference USA (2002-03 15-14). Very simply put, it's the Big East power conference winning over the A10 wannabe.