Well it wasn’t the close battle I had thought we’d see yesterday afternoon but it was a winnable game for George Mason that they squandered. Mason had numerous opportunities including some great open looks, but just cannot connect. VCU completely dominated the boards getting nearly double the amount of rebounds and really hurt Mason on the offensive glass. We knew Justin Tillman was going to be a problem but Mason also let Khris Lane own them in the paint and simply had no answer. VCU actually had more turnovers than Mason (16) but the Rams capitalized more on Mason’s miscues.
Otis Livingston II struggled with Jonathan Williams in his face during the first half but erupted for 20 points in the final nine minutes of the game. It wasn’t enough as the Rams went on a final run to stay ahead for good. Jaire Grayer didn’t get going til the second half either and Justin Kier vanished in the second half. Mason really struggles to get points when they need it and when they have opportunities. They cannot seem to capitalize on opponents mistakes and if not for a ton of free-throws this game could have been a blow out. When Otis and Grayer aren’t knocking down threes building a lead seems almost impossible for this group.
Mason was always going to struggle on defense this season, especially when you consider they are rotating three freshman up front. But on offense I had thought they wouldn’t have to labor this much to put 80+ points a night. They really don’t have a consistent scorer outside of Otis, Grayer and Kier go dark for too many stretches. On top of that Otis is being neutralized for long stretches of games recently as opponents game plans to take him out are having a lot of success. In the end he’s still getting his points here and there but he’s being rattled early on and it’s affecting the whole offense.
It was great to see AJ Wilson return from the flu and have a solid game. He can provide some toughness and athleticism on defense and was a spark on offense. Having Tillman in your a face is a tough task for anyone, especially a freshman but it’s easy to see his improvement. I think they also need to find a way to get fellow freshman Goanar Mar more shots. He started off the year hot from behind the three-point line but has since struggled to consistently knock them down. There’s a bit of hesitation on offense with the whole team but he’s one of the biggest culprits.
Photo gallery from Bill Bride: