Men's Basketball Set for Saturday Matinee at Penn State
Colonials have won three in a row after Wednesday's 71-60 win over Princeton
TIPPING OFF: After three straight wins in an eight-day span, GW leaves Washington, D.C. for its second true road game of the season at Penn State on Saturday. The Colonials and Nittany Lions are meeting for the fourth consecutive season with Penn State having won two of the past three matchups, including a 74-68 win in the Charles E. Smith Center last year that snapped GW's 27-game non-conference home winning streak.
LAST TIME OUT: GW defeated Princeton 71-60 on Wednesday as sophomore Jair Bolden was once again critical in victory in the best three-game stretch of his career. After putting 13 points on Morgan State, Bolden dropped 17 against Temple before exploding for a career-high 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting against the Tigers. GW enjoyed its biggest rebounding margin of the season at 37-23, which included an 18-8 edge on the offensive side that yielded a 17-7 margin in 2nd-chance points. Yuta Watanabe chipped in 13 points and Bo Zeigler added 10.
TRENDING UP: In GW's three-game winning streak, Watanabe is averaging 18.7 points per game and Bolden is averaging 18.3. Both have shot it well in that stretch, with Watanabe connecting on 7-of-17 (.412) from 3PT and Bolden hitting 8-of-18 (.444). As a team, the Colonials are shooting .500 (77-154) in the last three games, including .404 (21-52) from distance. That includes a scorching effort against Temple which saw GW hit .600 from the field for the first time since March 7, 2015. The Colonials are also sharing it well (14.0 assists/game) and hitting the glass (+7.3 margin) in the last three.
CLOSING TIME: The Colonials are 5-0 this year and 21-1 under Maurice Joseph when they lead with 5:00 to play. GW won its first four games by single digits before taking an 11-point victory over Princeton on Wednesday.
HITTING THEIR MARK: In each of GW's three most recent wins, the Colonials have shot better than .450 from the field (.463 vs. Morgan State, .600 vs. Temple, .455 vs. Princeton). Since the beginning of last season, GW is 12-4 when shooting better than .450 and 13-15 when failing to reach that mark.
SERIES HISTORY: The Colonials are 12-20 against the Nittany Lions dating back to the initial meeting during the 1907-08 season. Both teams were charter members of the Atlantic 10 Conference in 1976-77 (then the Eastern Collegiate Basketball League and Eastern 8), with GW posting an 8-15 mark in 23 meetings as league rivals, culminating in an 81-75 loss to PSU in the 1991 A-10 Championship title game. The Colonials will be looking for just their second win in their 15th trip to University Park; the lone victory came back on Jan. 14, 1977, a 91-88 overtime triumph.
STRONG SCHEDULE: GW is playing one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the nation which includes six of 13 games against teams in Ken Pomeroy's top 50. After facing FSU (27th), Xavier (13th), K-State (34th), Temple (42nd) and Penn State (41st), the Colonials still have a date with Miami (15th).
PLAYING POWER LEAGUES: GW hasn't shied away from playing the best competition in non-conference play, and has fared well over the last five seasons. Since the 2013-14 season, GW is 21-15 against teams from the AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac 12 and SEC.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Watanabe earned Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career after averaging 21.5 points and 6.5 rebounds last week. He became the 49th member of GW's 1,000 point club with his first point on Wednesday vs. Morgan State and went on to score a career-high 26. For the week, he shot .577 (15-26) from the floor and .455 (5-11) from three-point range, and averaged 3.5 steals and 2.5 blocks.
Watanabe leads GW in scoring (14.8 ppg), blocks (2.4 bpg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). The native of Kagawa, Japan, has been a workhorse, recording double-doubles vs. Howard (19p, 11r) and Rider (16 p, 13r). He is playing 38.1 minutes per game, which leads the A-10, including all 40 in both of the aforementioned games plus vs. Xavier.
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