PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Ryan Pearson • George Mason
Sr., F, 6-6, 237 - Far Rockaway, N.Y./Christ the King

Pearson scored a career-high 35 points and grabbed a season-best 14 rebounds in George Mason’s 84-76 victory at College of Charleston that snapped the Cougars’ 15-game home court winning streak. The 35 points were the most by a Mason player in seven years and the 14 boards were one shy of his career high. It was the fifth double-double of the season for Pearson, who also had a career-high four assists and two steals in the win.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK:
Briante Weber • VCU
Fr., G, 6-3, 160 - Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge

Weber scored 11 points, with five rebounds, a career-high five steals and a career-best four assists in VCU’s 76-75 overtime victory at Akron that ended the Zips’ 14-game home court winning streak. The freshman forced back-to-back turnovers that spurred a Rams’ rally from 12 points down as he recorded at least two thefts for the 10th time this season. The 11 points were the second-highest total of his career.

CONFERENCE NOTES:

Streaking: Several CAA teams head into the New Year playing very well. Georgia State is riding a school-record nine-game winning streak, which is tied for the 9th-longest active streak in Division I. The Panthers have won the nine games by an average of 21.4 ppg. VCU has won seven in a row and nine of its last 10 after a 76-75 overtime victory at Akron last Thursday. The Rams’ first six victories were by double digits, which is the first time they had accomplished that feat since 1973-74. Drexel has captured its last six games after beating Fairfield and St. Francis (Pa.) last week. George Mason has claimed seven of its last nine, James Madison has won six out of eight, UNCW has won four of its last six and Hofstra is on a three-game winning streak.

Conference Play Resumes With Busy Stretch: CAA play resumes on Monday with a demanding stretch of three conference games in six days. Road teams came out on top in three of the six CAA contests played in December. George Mason won 65-53 at Towson, James Madison picked up a 62-60 victory at Hofstra and Old Dominion earned a 69-59 win at Northeastern. Getting victories at home were Delaware, which beat rival Drexel 71-60, Georgia State, which cruised by William & Mary, 66-34, and VCU, which beat UNCW 87-64.

Impressive Week In Non-Conference Action: CAA teams ended the final full week of non-conference play in impressive fashion. The league went 8-5 last week, including three victories over teams in the top 80 of the RPI. George Mason defeated College of Charleston 84-76, ending the Cougars’ 15-game home court win streak, Hofstra knocked off top 20 RPI squad Iona, 83-75, and Drexel downed Fairfield, 77-69. VCU edged Akron, 76-75 in overtime, snapping the Zips’ 14-game home court win streak. Of the five losses, two were close games against Top 25 foes (ODU vs. #8 Missouri and Towson vs. #23 Virginia) and Delaware fell 66-63 to a Temple team that is #26 in the RPI.

Thrilling Finishes:
Last week’s action also featured several thrilling finishes. Northeastern’s Joel Smith hit a runner from the right wing at the buzzer to give the Huskies a 53-51 win at Vermont. Darius Theus made a layup with 2.7 seconds left in overtime to push VCU past Akron, 76-75. James Madison got a game-tying 3-pointer from  Humpty Hitchens with 4 seconds left in regulation and then a game-winning runner from Devon Moore with 5 seconds to go in overtime in its 71-69 triumph over Stetson.

From CAA To NBA: The CAA is well-represented with five players on NBA rosters to start the season. Former CAA players include Northeastern’s J.J. Barea (Minnesota Timberwolves), Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins (Golden State Warriors), VCU’s Eric Maynor (Oklahoma City Thunder), Towson’s Gary Neal (San Antonio Spurs) and VCU’s Larry Sanders (Milwaukee Bucks). 

Doing It With Defense: Several CAA teams are excelling defensively. Three teams (Drexel, Georgia State and VCU) are holding opponents to 61.0 ppg or less, while George Mason, GSU and Delaware are limiting foes to less than 40% FG shooting. VCU leads the CAA and ranks 6th in Division I with 10.3 steals per game and it’s 2nd in the nation in opposition turnover rate (27%). GSU, Old Dominion and Northeastern are also averaging better than 8.3 steals per game. The Rams are 8th in Division I in turnover margin (+6.5 tpg) and 13th in forced turnovers.

UNCW’s Smith Ranked 3rd Among Freshmen Scorers:
UNCW guard Adam Smith ranked third in scoring among all freshmen in Division I through games of Dec. 31. Smith, who is averaging 17.3 ppg, trails only Juan’ya Green of Niagara (20.1 ppg) and Kyle Vinales of Central Connecticut (19.0 ppg), Smith has scored double figures in nine of 11 UNCW games, including a UNCW freshman-record 32 points at Wake Forest, a 27-point effort at Toledo and 23 points at Maryland.

Mason’s 18-Game Home Win Streak Ends:
George Mason lost 75-64 to Duquesne on Dec. 21, ending the 10th-longest active home court streak in the nation at 18 games. It was the first setback at home since the end of the 2009-10 season for the Patriots, who tied the Patriot Center record for consecutive victories.

Changing Of The Guard: It’s been a year of change around the CAA as many young players and newcomers are making an impact. As of Jan. 2, there were seven seniors among the league’s top 18 in scoring along with four sophomores and two freshmen. Last season, eight of the CAA’s top 10 scorers were seniors.

Freshmen Making An Impact: Freshmen are seeing significant playing time around the CAA this season. All 12 CAA teams have at least one freshman on their team who is averaging better than 16 minutes per game and JMU is the only team that hasn’t had a freshman start at least one game. Four freshmen are among the CAA’s top 30 in scoring - UNCW’s Adam Smith, Drexel’s Damion Lee, W&M’s Marcus Thornton and ODU’s Dimitri Batten. Four are among the top 15 in assists - Towson’s Kris Walden, Mason’s Corey Edwards, Delaware’s Khalid Lewis and Drexel’s Lee. Three are in the top 10 in steals - VCU’s Briante Weber, NU’s Quincy Ford and Mason’s Edwards. Three are also two in the top 20 in rebounding - UNCW’s Cedrick Williams and Drexel’s Lee.

UD’s Hagins Ranks 5th Nationally In Rebounding: Delaware junior Jamelle Hagins ranked fifth in the nation in rebounding at 11.5 rpg according to the latest NCAA stats through games of Dec. 31. UNCW’s Keith Rendleman and ODU’s Chris Cooper are 23rd with 9.8 rpg. In other statistical categories, Hofstra’s Mike Moore is 7th in scoring (21.4 ppg) and UD’s Devon Saddler is 17th with 20.0 ppg. GSU’s Eric Buckner is 12th in blocks (3.0 bpg), ODU’s Kent Bazemore and VCU’s Briante Weber are 13th in steals (2.5 spg). In team categories, Drexel is 18th in the nation in scoring defense (57.6 ppg). VCU is 3rd in steals per game (10.3 spg).

GSU’s Fields On Cousy Award Watch List: Georgia State senior guard James Fields is among the candidates for the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Fields is contributing 9.0 ppg for the Panthers this season and has 34 assists with just 14 turnovers.

Doubling Up: Ten CAA players have already recorded two or more double-doubles this season. ODU senior Chris Cooper has recorded eight double-doubles and Delaware’s Jamelle Hagins has seven double-doubles, which were recorded in consecutive games from Nov. 26-Dec. 19. UNCW’s Keith Rendleman and George Mason’s Ryan Pearson each have five double-doubles and Towson’s Robert Nwankwo has four. Eleven of the 12 CAA teams have a player with at least one double-double.

Starting Streaks: VCU senior Bradford Burgess has made 123 consecutive starts, which is the longest active streak in Division I basketball and broke the Rams’ all-time record. James Madison senior Julius Wells has started 111 straight games, which ranks second on the Dukes’ career list. Wells ranks 8th on JMU’s all-time scoring list last week with 1,407 points and Burgess is 14th on the VCU’s all-time points list with 1,395 points.

First Coaches Teleconference Moved To Jan. 3: Since all 12 CAA men’s basketball teams will be in action on Monday, Jan. 2, the first CAA men’s basketball coaches’ teleconference of the season will move to Tuesday, Jan. 3. The calls will return to their normal Monday schedule on Jan. 9. More information can be found on page 5 of this release.

Delaware

•  Fell 66-63 to Temple on Friday. It was Delaware’s first home loss (4-1) and came before the largest home crowd (4,234) since 2005.

•  Guard Devon Saddler, who is 2nd in the CAA in scoring (20.0 ppg), had a team-high 18 pts. vs. Temple. It was his 10th double-digit effort in 11 games, including a streak of five straight 20+ point outings from Nov. 18-Dec. 3, and two games with 30+ points.

•  Junior Jamelle Hagins had his streak of 7 straight double-doubles end vs. Temple (6 pts/8 reb). He leads the CAA with 11.5 rpg and is 9th in scoring (13.5 ppg). His double-double streak was the longest for a UD player since Harding Nana in 2004-05. He also has 28 blocks.

•  Senior Kelvin McNeil came off the bench and tied a career high with 13 points on 5-of-7 FG shooting vs. Temple.

• Freshman Jarvis Threatt came off the bench to score 8 points vs. Temple and is averaging 12.5 ppg over his last two contests.

Drexel

•  Extended winning streak to six with victories over Fairfield and St. Francis (Pa.) last week. Improved to 4-0 at home this season.

•  Samme Givens scored a career-high 31 pts vs. Fairfield and added 11 vs. St. Francis. He is averaging 16.3 ppg while shooting 68.4% from the floor (39-57) over the 6-game win streak. Givens also had 13 rebounds last week and with 857 career boards is one shy of 4th place on Drexel’s all-time list.

•  Frantz Massenat had 11 pts. vs. Fairfield and has scored double figures in eight of 12 games. Massenat is averaging 12.5 ppg and ranks 4th in the CAA in assists (4.0 apg).

•  Freshman Damion Lee had a team-high 14 pts vs. St. Francis. He ranks among the CAA’s top 20 in scoring, rebounding and assists.

•  Drexel shot 53.2% from the floor vs. Fairfield and has shot 50% or better in three of its last five games.

• The Dragons also made 33-of-41 (80.5%) at the FT line last week.

George Mason

•  Defeated College of Charleston 84-76 on Friday, ending the Cougars’ 15-game home court winning streak.

•  Ryan Pearson posted his 5th double-double with a career-high 35 points and a team-high 14 rebounds at CofC. He has scored double figures in 13 of his last 14 games and is among the CAA’s top five in scoring (19.5ppg/3rd) and rebounds (8.4rpg/5th).

•  Sophomore Vertrail Vaughns added 12 points at CofC, which was his 3rd straight game with 12 or more points.

•  Bryon Allen had 11 points and 5 assists at CofC. He leads the team with 51 assists and has scored double digits in three of his last four games.

• Mason tops the CAA in FG percentage (47.7%) and FG percentage defense (38.6%). Mason has shot at least 45% from the floor in 11 of 13 games, including 51.7% vs. Charleston.

Georgia State

•  Go into CAA play on a 9-game winning streak. The winning streak is the longest in school history, breaking the mark set in 2000-01, and the 9th-best in Division I.

•  The Panthers are allowing only 51.8 ppg while scoring 73.2 ppg during the winning streak. GSU has held five foes under 50 pts.

•  Senior James Fields scored a career-high 18 points with five assists and four steals vs. Ga. Southern on Dec. 22. He leads the CAA in assist (34)/turnover (14) ratio.

•  Guard Devonta White leads GSU and is 11th in the CAA in scoring (13.4 ppg). He’s averaging 18.0 ppg over the past three games.

•  GSU is off to its best start since going 11-1 in 2000-01. Coach Ron Hunter’s 9-3 start is the best ever for a first-year GSU coach.

• Senior Eric Buckner leads the CAA with 36 blocks this season. With 85 career blocks, he ranks fifth in GSU history.

Hofstra

•  On a season-best three-game winning streak after beating Iona 83-75 on Thursday. Have scored at least 82 points in all 3 wins.

•  Senior Mike Moore scored a team-high 24 points vs. Iona. Moore has a league-best 10 20+-point efforts this season and leads the CAA in scoring (21.4 ppg). He’s been HU’s top scorer in 12 of 13 games.

•  Senior Nathaniel Lester posted a double-double (21pts/10reb) vs. Iona and has scored double digits in 10 games. Lester and Moore have combined for over 50% of Hofstra’s offense (449-of-890 points).

•  Senior Dwan McMillan is averaging 11.5 ppg and 9.5 apg over his last two games. McMillan leads the team with 63 assists, which is 41 more than any other Pride player..

• Junior David Imes set season-highs with 16 points and 15 rebounds vs. Iona and also made four steals.

James Madison

•  Fell 79-60 to Rhode Island but beat Stetson 71-69 in OT at the UCF Holiday Classic. JMU has won six of its last eight overall.

•  Senior Humpty Hitchens tied a career high with 26 points vs. Stetson. He ranks 3rd in the CAA in assists (4.2 apg), 6th in scoring (16.2ppg) and steals (1.7spg). 1st in 3-pointers per game and 4th in 3-pt FG%.

•  Junior A.J. Davis has tallied double digits eight times and ranks 5th in the CAA in scoring (16.6ppg). He began his JMU career with four straight 20-point games and had a team-high 22 points off the bench at GW.

•  Junior Devon Moore added 10 points and 5 assists vs. Stetson and hit the game-winning shot in overtime.

•  Senior Julius Wells, who is the leading active scorer in the CAA with 1,407 career points, ranks 8th on JMU’s all-time scoring list.

•  Freshman Arman Marks scored a career-high 10 points vs. URI and rookie Enoch Hood had a career-high 8 pts. vs. Stetson.

UNCW

•  Posted a 72-61 win over Furman on Friday for their fourth victory in the last six games.

•  Freshman Adam Smith poured in a team-high 20 points vs. Furman. Smith, who has nine double-digit efforts and four 20+ point games, leads the team and is 4th in the CAA in scoring with 17.3 ppg.

•  Junior Keith Rendleman added 9 points and 7 rebounds vs. Furman, ending his 9-game double-figure scoring streak. He ranks 3rd in the CAA in rebounding (9.8 rpg) and 8th in scoring (13.8 ppg).

•  Sophomore Tanner Milson scored a season-high 11 points off the bench vs. Furman.

•  UNCW shot a season-best 57.1% (8-14) from 3-point range vs. Furman. Freshman K.K. Simmons was 3-of-4 from three and Smith drained 4-of-6 treys.

•  Freshmen have accounted for 406 of the Seahawks’ 736 points (55.2%) this season.

Northeastern

•  Snapped a six-game losing streak with a 53-51 victory at Vermont on Friday.

•  Joel Smith scored a team-high 19 points at Vermont, including a game-winning shot at the buzzer. It was Smith’s top effort since scoring 29 vs. St. John’s on Nov. 26.

•  Junior Jonathan Lee added nine points and four assists at Vermont. Lee has scored double figures in 20 of his last 23 games.

•  Lee ranks among the CAA’s top 10 in scoring (14.0ppg/9th), assists (3.7apg/8th) and steals (2.3spg/3rd).

•  Freshman Quincy Ford has scored double figures in four of his last six games.

•  The Huskies are averaging just 12 turnovers over the past two games after committing 20 or more in five straight contests.

•   NU outrebounded Vermont 33-30 and is 4-2 this season when winning the battle of the boards.

Old Dominion

•  Lost a hard-fought 75-68 decision to unbeaten #8 Missouri on Friday. The contest was tied with just over a minute to go.

•  Senior Chris Cooper posted his league-best 8th double-double (10pts/11reb) vs. Missouri. Cooper ranks 2nd in the CAA in rebounding (9.8rpg) and is scoring 10.7 ppg.

•  Kent Bazemore scored a team-high 16 points vs. Missouri and is averaging 17.5 ppg over his last four games. Bazemore is 4th on ODU’s career steals list with 208 and is 2nd in the CAA with 2.5 spg this season.

•  Freshman guard Dimitri Batten is averaging 10.4 ppg over his last five games. He also blocked three shots vs. Missouri.

•  Senior guard Trian Iliadis tied his career high wtih 15 points vs. Missouri. Iliadis made three treys and also had three steals.

•  ODU played before its 21st sellout at the Constant Center vs. Missouri and its 31st game with a crowd of 8,000 or more.

Towson

•  Lost a tight 57-50 battle at #23 Virginia on Friday. Led by eight early and trailed by only four in the final minute of the game.

•  Freshman guard Kris Walden scored a season-high 15 points at Virginia. Made 6-13 from the floor and hit three treys.

•  Senior Robert Nwankwo had 7 points and a season-high 5 blocked shots at UVA. He is among the CAA’s top 20 in scoring (11.9ppg/20th), rebounding (8.5rpg/4th) and blocks (2.2bpg/4th).

•  Sophomore Marcus Damas scored 13 points at Virginia and has tallied double digits in 6 of the last 7 games. Damas is 17th in the CAA in scoring (12.2ppg) and is 13th in the CAA in rebounding (6.1rpg).

•  Sophomore Erique Gumbs tied a season-high with 9 points at UVA.

•  Towson shot 56% from the floor in the 2nd half vs. a Virginia team that ranks second nationally in scoring defense.

VCU

•  Have won seven in a row and nine of 10 after a 76-75 overtime victory at Akron on Thursday. Darius Theus hit the game-winning layup with 2.7 seconds left in OT.

•  Senior Bradford Burgess scored a team-high 19 points at Akron, which was his 11th double-digit effort in the last 12 games.

•  Sophomore Juvonte Reddic is averaging 13.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg in his last 4 games.

•  Freshman Briante Weber scored a career-high 11 points at Akron and also had five rebounds, a career-high five steals and four assists. Weber leads the CAA with 2.5 spg and tops the nation in steals per 40 min.

•  VCU went undefeated in December (6-0) for just the 4th time in school history.

•  VCU leads the CAA with 10.3 steals per game and is averaging 13.2 spg over the last five contests.

•  VCU is 41-2 under Shaka Smart when holding opponents to 65 points or less.

William & Mary

•  Lost 73-69 at Miami (Ohio) on Thursday. Shot a season-best 51% from the floor, including 64% in the second half.

•  Senior Quinn McDowell scored a team-high 20 points at Miami which matched his top effort of the season. The two-time All-CAA performer ranks 11th on W&M’s all-time scoring list with 1,371 points.

•  Tim Rusthoven had 14 pts and 8 reb at Miami and is averaging 10.3 ppg and 6.6 rpg in 7 games since returning from injury.

•  Sophomore Brandon Britt scored 10 points at  Miami. Britt has led the Tribe in scoring in five of the past 10 games and is averaging 10.9 ppg over the 10-game stretch.

•  Freshman Marcus Thornton, who scored 15 pts at Miami, has reached double digits eight times. He is contributing 10.4 ppg.

•  Guard Kendrix Brown grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds at Miami. The senior leads W&M in assists (24) and steals (14).