George Mason entertains No. 18 Virginia Commonwealth

Feb 4, 2015 - 3:43 PM Fairfax, VA ( - Still the top team in the Atlantic 10 Conference, the 18th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams must bounce back from their first loss of 2015 when they take on the George Mason Patriots on Wednesday night.

The Rams entered last weekend having won 12 straight outings, dating back to early December when the team bowed to nationally-ranked Virginia (74-57) at home. Over the weekend, VCU was pitted against Richmond at home and suffered a 64-55 setback, dropping it to 7-1 in conference play.

As for the Patriots, they find themselves in the bottom third of the A-10 standings with just two wins in eight tries. The team lost six of the last seven games on the schedule during the month of January, including a 62-53 defeat at the hands of Duquesne in Pittsburgh this past Saturday. George Mason is now six games below .500 on the campaign overall.

With respect to the all-time series VCU, which will host the Patriots early next month, leads by a count of 32-18.

Shooting only 40.7 percent from the floor, the Rams were actually almost even with Richmond last Saturday in that department, but hitting only 3-of-20 beyond the arc and being outscored 20-8 at the free-throw line was too much to overcome for the hosts. Treveon Graham tallied 18 points and seven rebounds, followed by Briante Weber and Melvin Johnson with 11 and 10 points, respectively, the former also accounting for six steals.

The Rams may have been defeated by Richmond over the weekend, but the loss on the scoreboard wasn't the worst of it for VCU as the team also lost the services of Weber who went down with a serious knee injury. Within reach of the all-time NCAA record for steals, Weber has already had his right knee operated on and will now be a spectator for the Rams as they try to get back on track.

Graham and Johnson will have to pick up some of the slack left by Weber, who was the third-leading scorer for the Rams with 8.1 ppg, not to mention the top man when it came to assists with 85. Graham (16.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Johnson (13.0 ppg) have some gaps to fill for a program that had been outscoring the competition by 9.0 ppg.

The Patriots held Duquesne to only nine field goals in the first half at the Palumbo Center, which should have given George Mason a shot at taking the win in Pittsburgh, but the visitors made a mere four baskets in the period and 16 overall. The Patriots converted only 25.8 percent of their field goal tries, including 6-of-26 (.231) out on the perimeter. Isaiah Jackson scored 12 points and Jalen Jenkins 11, while Shevon Thompson recorded 10 rebounds in the loss.

Over the last four games, the Patriots have had a different high scorer each time, but overall the leader on offense is Thompson with his 13.1 ppg. The only player to have started every since game, Thompson is shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and is averaging a double-double thanks to 11.5 ppg. He is also first with 25 blocked shots, but even all of that does not excuse the fact that he has a mere two assists in close to 600 minutes of action under his belt.

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