Men's Basketball Opens A-10 Tournament vs. Fordham
Colonials and Rams set for 8:30 p.m. tip-off in Capital One Arena
HOT NEAR HOME: The Colonials will look to recapture the impressive form they displayed at Capital One Arena in December, when they shot 60 percent from the field and 56.3 percent from three in a 71-67 win over Temple. Counting that game and GW's 17 at home, the Colonials are 13-5 inside the District this season, while averaging 71.2 points on .473 shooting.
SERIES HISTORY: GW, which has won the last seven meetings in a row, and 10 of the last 11, leads the all-time series 26-6. The Colonials defeated the Rams in the Smith Center, 72-56, last Wednesday as Yuta Watanabe went for a career-high 31 on Senior Night.
A-10 HONOREES: Watanabe is the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, marking the first time a Colonial has received the award (which was instituted in 1996-97). He also earned nods to the All-Defensive Team and All-Conference Third Team. Patrick Steeves was named to the All-Academic Team for the second straight year, marking the seventh season in a row the Colonials have been represented on that squad, the longest such streak in the league.
AT THE A-10 CHAMPIONSHIP: GW is 26-37 all-time in the A-10 Championship, with titles in 2005 and 2007. The Colonials have won their opening game four straight years.
FINISHING STRONG: Watanabe is playing the best basketball of his career down the stretch of his senior season. Over the last eight games, he's averaging 21.8 points on .432 shooting from three while also adding 6.9 rebounds per game. During the full A-10 season, Watanabe averaged 18.4 points per game while shooting .419 (39-93) from three-point range. He hit multiple threes in 14 of 18 league games and reached double figures in scoring in all 18 games.
TURNING IT UP: After averaging just 61.3 points per game in their first eight conference games, GW has turned it up, averaging 74.5 ppg in its last 10 outings. The Colonials are 11-2 this season when scoring 70 or more points.
TORO'S SURGE: Toro, who started the first 16 games of the season before coming off the bench in five of the next seven games, has taken advantage of being inserted back into the starting lineup. Over the last eight games, Toro is averaging 11.4 ppg and 8.9 rpg, while playing 28.6 minutes per game. Toro has three double-doubles in his last four games, with 16 points and 10 rebounds vs. Richmond, 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds at Saint Louis, and 13/10 at Dayton.
NOTABLE NUMBERS: Over the last eight games (5-3 record), GW is shooting .495 from the field while opponents are hitting .406 ... that includes five of the last six above .500 (.508 at UMass, .526 vs. VCU, .689 vs. Richmond, .500 vs. Fordham, .508 at Dayton) ... GW has netted double-figure fastbreak points in five of the last eight games, after doing that just twice in the first 23 games ... the Colonials rank fifth nationally in fewest personal fouls per game (14.6) ... Watanabe ranks 28th nationally in minutes per game with 36.7 ... the Colonials are 14-0 this year and 30-1 under Maurice Joseph when they lead with 5:00 to play.
BLOCK PARTY: GW leads the Atlantic 10 and ranks 26th nationally with 5.0 blocks per game. Watanabe leads the way with 49 on the season, with his 1.6/game ranking third in the league, and he is 3rd in school history with 142 blocks in his career. Watanabe had a seven-block game in the opener vs. Howard, which marked a career-high, and another six vs. Rider.
STEEVES' SPARK: Steeves, a sixth-year grad student, is contributing career bests in scoring (10.4 ppg), rebounding (5.3 rpg), FG% (.536 which ranks 8th in the A-10) and assists (2.1). He's reached double figures in scoring 14 times this season after doing it nine times all of last year, and he has three 20-point games. The Harvard graduate has done it all while maintaining a 3.96 GPA in the classroom and on Feb. 22 was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team. He's the lone representative from the A-10 and one of just 41 players nationally who will advance to the ballot for Academic All-America honors.
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