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Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Dayton

Freshman Paul Jorgensen steps back before making his second three-pointer of the afternoon. Jorgenson contributed 13 points in the Colonials win. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Freshman Paul Jorgensen sunk two threes in a game against Duquesne earlier this season. File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

What: Men’s basketball (16-6, 6-3 A-10) vs. Dayton (17-4, 7-2 A-10)
When: Friday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.
Where: Smith Center

Following a two-game road trip that brought losses at VCU and Rhode Island, the Colonials return home Friday for a pivotal matchup against Dayton.

The two-game skid has put GW on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble, and the team will need to take care of business at home to regain momentum and have a shot at the big dance. The Flyers sit in second place in the Atlantic 10 and received nine votes in last week’s AP Top 25 Poll, but have yet to play VCU or URI.

Last year, the teams’ only meeting was in Ohio, where GW lost 75-65 while playing without guards Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage due to injury. But with a perfect home record to maintain and post-season prospects on the line, expect the Colonials to come out strong Friday as they try to prove why they still deserve a bid come March.

The case for Dayton:
The Flyers’ sharp-shooting offense is led by senior guard Jordan Sibert, who is averaging 16.5 points per game, sixth best in the A-10. The lone senior captains a squad that is shooting an A-10 best 47.3 percent from the field, placing them 33rd in the nation in field goal percentage.

Behind Sibert are forwards Dyshawn Pierre, a junior who averages 12.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and sophomore Kendall Pollard, who is averaging 12 points per game. Sophomore guard Scoochie Smith leads Dayton with 4.1 assists per game, contributing to the team’s average of 14.8, second best in the A-10, while GW’s 11.3 assists per game is second worst in the conference.

From three, Dayton also has the edge: The Flyers are shooting third-best in the A-10 from beyond the arc at 35.7 percent to GW’s eighth-best 32.3 percent. If the Flyers can figure out the Colonials’ defense and stay focused in a hostile Smith Center, their high-powered offense may hand GW its first loss at home this season.

The case for GW:
Despite Dayton’s offensive prowess, GW has a clear advantage on the defensive end: The Colonials are allowing 59.9 per game, giving them the 36th best-scoring defense in the country.

Rebounding will also be big for the Colonials, who are averaging 37 boards per game to Dayton’s 32.6. With four starters averaging above 5.0 rebounds per game, GW looks poised to win a key battle on the glass.

But even with stellar defense, the Colonials will need production from top scorers to secure a win. Junior Kevin Larsen, who led his team with 15 points in the loss at URI, will need another big game down low, while junior guard Patricio Garino must minimize his team-high 2.4 turnovers per game.

Last time at the Smith Center, the GW backcourt was able to find the magic touch from three. McDonald, Savage, sophomore Nick Griffin and freshman Paul Jorgensen combined for 12 three-pointers against Duquesne, and they’ll need to find a similar rhythm Friday night to compete with Dayton’s skilled shooters.

GW’s stingy defense will frustrate a Flyers team that’s used to scoring, and if the Colonials can limit turnovers and get going offensively, which they usually do at the Smith Center, they’re sure to find success.

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