The last time Kim English was in Allen Fieldhouse as a player, the result was one of the most exciting games in Kansas history. English returns today for the first time as the head coach for George Mason, and we'll be hoping for far fewer fireworks this time around.
English's Patriots may remind viewers just a bit of that same Missouri team from the exciting 2012 matchup. No, they aren't nearly as good as that Mizzou team was, but they do 1) shoot a ton of threes, and 2) shoot them well. Outside shots make up nearly half their shots from the field, the 14th highest rate in D1. The volume has not hurt their effectiveness either, as they hit 36% of those shots. They also rank 37th in two point shooting. All of that said, KenPom ranks them as the 141st offense and 129th team in the country. Shooting is important, but it's not everything, and they aren't great at much else.
Offensively, they're average in terms of turnovers, and subpar on the glass and getting to the line. Defensively, they hit the glass hard but don't really jump out anywhere else. But enough stats, what have their actual results been on the court? George Mason's signature win this year was an impressive five point road win over Maryland. Unfortunately, they've lost just about every other game against an opponent with a pulse. They're 7-5, but aside from Maryland, Navy is the only other team in the KenPom top 200 they've been able to beat, and they've lost to three teams who aren't far from the 200s themselves.
Players To Watch
Josh Oduro, junior center
Oduro is the team's leading scorer, and at 6'9, 235 pounds, he has good size for a mid-major big man. He'll step out to the three point line occasionally (only hitting 30% there), but for the most part he does his damage in the paint. He's hit 66% of 113 two point attempts, so McCormack and Lightfoot will need to be ready to defend without fouling in this one. Oduro is a solid rim protector as well, so as well as George Mason shoots threes, this may be the guy who impacts the game the most (remember Gavin Kensmil and the SFA game? Yeah, I've tried to forget it too).
D'Shawn Schwartz, senior PF
Schwartz playing next to Oduro gives the Patriots something not many mid majors are blessed with: a big, powerful, multifaceted frontcourt duo. Schwartz is 6'7, but weighs in at 232 pounds. Despite the size, he's not much of a rebounder, but he'll shoot it often and from anywhere. He leads the team in 3 pointers taken (and hits 37%), and is second in two pointers (hitting 56%). Most of his impact is on the offensive end, but he has the ability to impact this game by requiring attention from a Kansas defender with both size and mobility.
Devon Cooper, senior wing
Cooper leads the team in 3 pointers made, hitting 39% of his 82 attempts. Cooper isn't as dangerous inside the arc, turns it over a bit too much and doesn't pop elsewhere across the statsheet, but guys who take and make a bunch of threes are worth keeping an eye on.
Looking at the pieces George Mason has, and how good they've been in select areas of the game, I'm a little surprised they've been so underwhelming outside of the big Maryland win. Not having actually watched the team, I'm going to guess we'll see decent size and shooting ability, but a lack of athleticism on the court. Still, a line of 19.5 in this one, especially with the weather forecast and the school clearly concerned about attendance, seems a bit high. I don't think we'll see George Mason celebrating a victory at Allen Fieldhouse, but I don't think the Jayhawks are cruising to an easy blowout win here, either (unless the Patriots go 8-36 from three or something). I'll say Kansas 84, George Mason 73