NCAA Tournament: Second Round
#3 North Carolina (23-7) vs. #11 George Mason (24-7)
Dayton, Ohio - Dayton Arena
Sunday, 2:20 p.m., CBS (Gus Johnson and Len Elmore)
"Most people don't get to see how good the CAA is, night in and night out. We know when we face opponents from the Big 12 or Big Ten, we're not in awe. We battled against each other and we're tested. We got voted into the coaches' top 25 for the first time in school's history. You don't do that if you're not very good." -- Jim Larranaga
"George Mason was so impressive last night, I was dumbfounded. ... [It was] about as impressive an opening round game that I have ever seen a team play. I mean, I felt like they were shooting about 85 percent. They were guarding. They were doing everything." -- Roy Williams
"If you put them in the ACC, they would do well. They have big guys down low that can score, athletic guards. They'd match up well against a lot of ACC-caliber teams. We can't look at the name and think we're going to walk all over the team. They are a great team." -- Bobby Frasor
Season Recap: This was a strong year for the Colonial Athletic Conference. Three CAA teams finished in the RPI Top 30 (UNC Wilmington, George Mason, Hofstra), with a fourth team (Old Dominion) that was Top 30 in late January before a mediocre finish. The conference finished the season ranked 10th in the nation, ahead of the Atlantic 10, Conference USA and the West Coast (Gonzaga's). George Mason played a solid schedule (ranked No. 89 in the nation) and while not beating any high-major teams, their best win of the year was at Wichita State in the February Bracket Buster event. Considering Wichita State got a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, that was likely the win that pushed the Patriots over the bubble.
NCAA 1st Round: The basketball world was looking ahead to a second round UNC-Michigan State showdown, but George Mason was out to earn respect. And they completely dominated the Spartans. GMU shot 59% from the floor and outrebounded their Big Ten foe, 40-24.
The Patriots made it interesting late by hitting just 10-of-21 free throws over the final three minutes, before holding on for the 75-65 final. Folarin Campbell led GMU with 21 points (8-8 FG), 7 rebounds and 3 assists, while Will Thomas posted 18 points and 14 rebounds.
He's Back: George Mason's three starting guards are all double-figure scorers, but they were without one of them in the opening round win over Michigan State. Tony Skinn (12.8 ppg) was serving a one-game suspension for a low-blow cheap shot in the CAA Tournament. He'll return to the lineup on Sunday.
Strong Stats: The Patriots are ranked among the nation's best in a couple defensive categories. They entered the NCAA Tournament at 9th in the nation in field-goal percentage
defense and 13th in scoring defense. In addition, GMU is one of the country's best shooting teams, ranked No. 11 in field goal percentage (48.7%).
Post Presence: The frontcourt duo of Jai Lewis and Will Thomas has proven to be a load for opponents to handle. The two combined for 31 points and 22 rebounds against Michigan State. Lewis, who was first-team All-CAA, is a 6-7, 275-pound force on the blocks with soft touch out to mid-range. Thomas is an emerging 6-7 sophomore currently playing the best basketball of his college career. In the last four games, Thomas has averaged 18.8 points, shooting 73% from the field.
Heel on the Bench: Scott Cherry, who played for the Tar Heels from 1989-1993, is in his sixth season as an assistant on the GMU coaching staff. The 6-2 guard from Ballston Spa, N.Y. played in 33 games in North Carolina's 1993 championship season.
Series History: This will only be the second-ever meeting between the two schools. On Dec. 7, 2003 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina shot 65% in the second half, outscoring George Mason, 68-32, en route to a 115-81 win. Sean May had a game-high 26 points and Raymond Felton set a school record with 18 assists. Jai Lewis posted 17 points for GMU.
01 Tony Skinn (6-1, 175, Sr.) – 12.8 ppg, 2.8 apg, 3.6 rpg
22 Lamar Butler (6-2, 170, Sr.) – 11.5 ppg, 2.3 apg
42 Folarin Campbell (6-4, 200, So.) - 10.6 ppg, 3.5 apg
34 Will Thomas (6-7, 220, So.) – 11.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg
55 Jai Lewis (6-7, 275, Sr.) - 14.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg
05 Gabe Norwood (6-5, 185, Jr.) – 3.6 ppg, 1.9 apg
50 Sammy Hernandez (6-5, 230, Fr.) – 2.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
12 Tim Burns (6-3, 185, Jr.) – 1.9 ppg
Location: Fairfax, Va.
Colors: Green & Gold
Head Coach: Jim Larranaga
Record at GMU: 163-103
Roster & Bios
Lewis ... Skinn
Butler ... Norwood