Men's Basketball Looks for Fourth Straight Win at Duquesne
The Colonials and Dukes are set for a 7 p.m. tip-off Wednesday in Pittsburgh
TIPPING OFF: After closing 2017 with three straight victories, including the A-10 opener vs. Saint Joseph's last Saturday, GW hits the road looking for its fourth win in a row as it faces Duquesne, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT: The Colonials led wire-to-wire in a 70-64 win over Saint Joseph's, limiting the Hawks to 28.6 percent shooting from the field in the fourth straight game holding their opponent under 65 points. Yuta Watanabe led GW on both sides, limiting Saint Joseph's leading scorer Shavar Newkirk to 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, while himself contributing 18 points (6-12 FGs) and nine rebounds. It was a quartet of Colonials in double figures as Jair Bolden added 16, Terry Nolan Jr. had 14 and Arnaldo Toro double-doubled with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
DECEMBER TO REMEMBER: After starting the season 2-4, GW has won six of its last eight games, including a 5-2 mark in the month of December. A big reason has been GW's improvement defensively, as the Colonials have allowed opponents an average of just 62.8 points over the last eight games, while in the first six games they were surrendering 72.7 ppg. Additionally, teams are shooting 43.2 percent against GW over the last eight games, as opposed to 45.5 percent in the first six. For the full season, GW now ranks fourth in the A-10 in scoring defense at 67.0 ppg.
CRASHING THE BOARDS: Despite not having a player on the roster taller than 6-foot-9, the Colonials have made a habit of crashing the boards. GW ranks second in the A-10 in offensive rebounding percentage (.328), having grabbed 157 offensive rebounds to opponents' 322 defensive boards. The Colonials are also third in the league with 11.2 offensive rebounds per game, and are outscoring opponents 158-134 in second-chance points, registering at least 10 in nine games this season.
DOING IT ALL: Yuta Watanabe has stated his case as the top two-way player in the conference, leading GW in scoring (14.4), blocks (1.9), and rebounding (7.1), all while playing 37.4 minutes per game which leads the A-10 and ranks 8th nationally. He earned league Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career on Dec. 4 after averaging 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 blocks in wins over Morgan State and Princeton. He has three double-doubles, most recently vs. UNH on Dec. 20.
NOTABLE: The Colonials rank 72nd nationally allowing 67.0 points per game, including an average of 62.7 in their past eight games ... in the last six games, GW is outscoring its opponents by 37 points (6.1/game) in the second half ... GW has won five straight in the series vs. Duquesne, with the last loss coming during the 2014-15 season (78-62 at Duquesne, 2/11/15).
JAIR'S JUMP: With A-10 play now underway, no sophomore in the league made a bigger jump in scoring from his freshman season than Jair Bolden. After averaging 4.8 ppg last year, he's logging 14.0 this season. The increase of 9.2 ppg is also the fifth-highest amongst the entire conference (Grant Golden, R-Fr., Richmond, +12.8; Will Tavares, Sr., Fordham, +11.4; Darrell Davis, Sr., Dayton, +11.2; Josh Cunningham, Jr., Dayton, +9.9).
CHASING SHAWNTA: It's no accident Terry Nolan Jr. is leading the Colonials in steals (22). After committing to GW, he asked coaches what the school record for career steals was with the intention of trying to break it. He has a long way to go, but coincidentally it's a fellow Baltimore native who owns the record: all-time great Shawnta Rogers, who had 310 steals in his exemplary career. Nolan Jr. has been an active defender in his freshman campaign, also ranking second on the squad in deflections (67) behind A-10 All-Defensive Team member Yuta Watanabe (74).
CLOSING TIME: The Colonials are 8-0 this year and 24-1 under Maurice Joseph when they lead with 5:00 to play, with six of GW's eight victories coming by single digits.
BLOCK PARTY: As a team, GW leads the Atlantic 10 and ranks 47th nationally with 4.9 blocks per game. Watanabe leads the way with 27 on the season, a number which ranks third in the league, and he is sixth in school history with 120 blocks in his career. Seven other Colonials have contributed multiple swats. Watanabe had a seven-block game in the opener vs. Howard, which marked a career-high, and another six vs. Rider.
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