Smith Center, Chapel Hill
Sunday, 1 p.m., FSS/COM (Mike Hogewood, Bobby Cremins)
GMU Pregame Notes
* Season to Date: Expectations are high in Fairfax this season, as George Mason is the preseason favorite to win the Colonial Conference. Through their first five games, they've backed up their status as one of the nation's top mid-major teams this season. The Patriots have rolled past Morehead State, Iona and Hartford -- and came from behind to beat East Carolina. In their one loss, 79-64 to Maryland, poor shooting (39% fg, 29% 3pt) and lack of size was too much to overcome.
* Players to Watch: The biggest name is 6-5 wing Mark Davis, a preseason first-team All-CAA selection who was also named to the College Insider Mid-Major all-America team. But while he's gotten the preseason press, all five starters are averaging double-digits. Davis (18.8 ppg) is joined by three-point ace Lamar Butler (14.6 ppg), big scoring guard Raoul Heinen (14.0 ppg), floor general Terry Reynolds (10.4 ppg) -- a transfer from Toledo who is also dishing out more than seven assists per game -- and in the middle is bruising sophomore Jai Lewis (12.2).
* Undersized: Their starting frontcourt from last year graduated, and head coach Jim Larranaga has chosen to simply play his top players, regardless of height. Thus, the GMU starting five is basically four guards and a power forward. They've been outrebounded on average of seven boards per game and the -14 difference in the Maryland loss played a large part in the outcome. The sole rebounding force is Lewis, who stands 6-7 and 275 pounds and is pulling down 7.6 boards per game.
* Sharpshooters: The Patriots are shooting a remarkable 43 percent from three-point range as a team. Heinen leads the way at 61 percent, followed by Davis (47 percent) and Butler (46 percent). Needless to say, perimeter defense is a key to beating GMU.
* Cherry Returns to the Hill: Scott Cherry played for the Tar Heels from 1989-1993. The 6-2 guard from Ballston Spa, N.Y. played in 33 games in North Carolina's 1993 championship season. This is his fourth season as an assistant on the GMU coaching staff.
* A First: This will be the first ever meeting between North Carolina and George Mason.
Background Location: Fairfax, Va. Enrollment: 26,796 Conference: Colonial Nickname: Patriots Colors: Green and Gold Head Coach: Jim Larranga Record at GMU: 104-75
Probable Starting Lineup: Terry Reynolds (5-9, G, Jr.) – 10.4 ppg, 7.6 apg, 2.4 spg Lamar Butler (6-2, G, So.) – 14.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg Raoul Heinen (6-5, G, Sr.) – 14.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg Mark Davis (6-5, F, Sr.) – 18.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.8 spg Jai Lewis (6-7, F, So.) – 12.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg Key Reserves: Trent Wurtz (6-8, F, So.) – 3.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg Tony Skinn (6-1, G, So.) – 3.6 ppg Kevin Mickens (6-9, G, Jr.) – 3.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Davis ... Heinen
Wurtz ... Larranaga