George Mason Vs. VCU: Patriots Win 12th Straight In Decisive Fashion, 71-51

George Mason left no doubt that they are the best team in the CAA and a legitimate Top 25 team in the nation, routing second-place Virginia Commonwealth 71-51 in their building.

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George Mason Vs. VCU: Patriots Clinch 12th-Straight Win With 71-51 Blowout

George Mason entered tonight's game against Virginia Commonwealth with a chance to clinch the CAA title with a win and a loss by Old Dominion. The Monarchs aren't cooperating, but George Mason left no doubt which team rules the league. The Patriots routed second-place Virginia Commonwealth on the road tonight 71-51, surging ahead early, late and everywhere in between for their 12th-straight win. 

George Mason moves to 22-5 and 14-2 in the CAA, while VCU falls to 20-8 and 12-4 in the league. Ryan Pearson led the way with 18 points and eight, while Cam Long, Vertrail Vaughns, Luke Hancock Mike Morrison also scored in double figures. The Patriots held VCU to 37-percent shooting, dominating on the defensive end.

The game was all but over when George Mason ripped off an 11-0 run early in the second half to take a 45-24 lead with 15:45 left to go in the half. VCU cut the lead down to 15 when the Patriots unleashed a 10-0 run to take a 61-36 lead on a Pearsen three with 8:31 remaining.

George Mason can clinch the CAA regular-season title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with one win or an Old Dominion loss.

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George Mason Vs. VCU: Fast Start, Finish Carries Patriots To 34-19 Halftime Lead

So far, so good for George Mason. The Patriots look well on their way to a share of the CAA title, as they used a fast start and a fast finish to take a 34-19 lead on Virginia Commonwealth at halftime on the road.

George Mason closed the half on a 13-2 run, taking a double-digit lead on two plays. First, Mike Morrison slammed a lob pass from Luke Hancock with 1:04 left to go in the half, and then Vertrall Vaughns hit a three-point shot at the buzzer, silencing a stunned VCU crowd. 

Vaughns leads the Patriots with 12 points off the bench on 4-5 shooting from three-point range. Rob Brandenberg leads VCU with eight.

The Patriots raced out to a fast start, unfazed by the Virginia Commonwealth crowd. VCU scored the first bucket of the game before the Patriots ripped off 11 straight to take the crowd out of it. A three-pointer by Andre Cornelius and a reverse layup out of an out-of-bounds play by Cam Long gave the Patriots an 11-2 lead before the first TV timeout. 

Virginia Commonwealth got the energy back, thanks mostly to a full-court press that disrupted the Patriots rhythm. A three-pointer by Brandenberg cut George Mason's lead to 19-15 with 8:23 left, but George Mason eventually took control again.

The half was marred by an intentional foul by Branden Rozzell of VCU on a breakaway dunk by Isaiah Tate. Rozzell shoved Tate in the back as he went up, causing a miss, but also causing Tate to fly off-balanced. Tate was not hurt, but he was visibly shaken and missed both free throws after an intentional foul was called. 

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George Mason Vs. VCU: Patriots Put 11-Game Winning Streak On Line In Richmond

The George Mason Patriots are among the hottest teams in the nation, having won 11 straight Colonial Athletic Association games. Tonight, however, they face their toughest test in the stretch, as they travel to the Siegel Center in Richmond to take on Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams have NCAA aspirations of their own, as they are 12-3 in the CAA and 20-7 overall.

This is by far the most difficult game George Mason has faced. The team's 11 straight wins include five road victories, but only two (Drexel and James Madison) came against teams with winning records in the CAA. The Patriots have failed their previous two road tests against the teams at the top of the CAA, losing consecutive games to Hofstra and Old Dominion in early January. Now, the Patriots will need to beat VCU to solidify their spot atop the CAA.

A win would also go a long way toward locking up the top spot in the CAA. If the Patriots win, they will take a two-game lead on VCU and Old Dominion, even if the Monarchs win their next one. If the Patriots lose, however, they will fall to second place in the conference and the Rams will take over the top spot.

The game will be broadcast on ESPNU at 7 p.m.

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