Quick Scout: Watch this aspect closely when George Mason faces KU Jayhawks basketball

Before every KU men’s basketball game, Jesse Newell previews the Jayhawks’ upcoming opponent with a scouting report and prediction.

Saturday’s game: George Mason at No. 6 Kansas, 4 p.m. Central, Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence

TV/Streaming: ESPN+

Opponent’s record: 7-5

KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 129

Point spread: Kansas by 19 1/2.

All statistics are from KenPom.com, Hoop-Math.com and Synergy Sports Technology. KenPom stats also only include Division I competition.


• Three-point shooting: George Mason shoots the 14th-highest percentage of threes in the country, but even with that frequency, it’s still made a well-above-average 36% of those tries (coach Kim English recently talked about his emphasis on threes in Jordan Sperber’s “Solving Basketball” podcast, as in George Mason practices, corner threes are worth 4, all other threes are worth 3, layups are worth 2 and long twos are worth 1).

• Defensive rebounding: The Patriots’ clear defensive strength is keeping opponents to only one shot per possession, as they rank 13th nationally in D-board percentage (English noted in Sperber’s podcast that if a player gives up an offensive rebound in practice, his team has to run two down-and-backs).

• Post offense: George Mason is choosy but extremely lethal with its post-ups, ranking as the nation’s most efficient team with that play type.


• Three-point defense: Much like KU’s previous opponent Nevada, George Mason’s defense struggles to dissuade perimeter attempts while also allowing a higher-than-average three-point percentage to opponents.

• Getting easy shots: The Patriots shoot well at the rim but don’t get there often, ranking 301st in percentage of close shots attempted.

• Depth: George Mason is 312th in KenPom’s bench minutes statistic, as English’s five starters have combined to accrue more than 75% of the team’s playing time.


6-foot-9 forward Josh Oduro (No. 13)

George Mason forward Josh Oduro.

Plus: Team’s focal point offensively

Plus: Elite scorer in post-up situations

Plus: Has made 80% of his shots at rim this season

Plus: Draws fouls often

Plus: Provides shot-blocking presence

Minus: Doesn’t stretch it often; has gone 7-for-23 from three this year (30%) but has made 24% for career

Minus: Synergy’s logs rate him as “poor” overall defender who has struggled in both spot-up and post-up settings.


Probably time to fade me.

The Quick Scout against-the-spread losing streak extended to four last game unless you’ve been picking against me. If so ... congratulations! That money should spend well in 2022.

In any case, English has had a fascinating first year with George Mason, as the Patriots have posted road wins over Maryland and Georgia while also experiencing the low of a five-game losing streak spanning late November and early December.

For now, though, George Mason has won three straight while displaying a different offensive profile than earlier in the season. The Patriots — buoyed by solid shooting all year — have kept their turnover percentage between 12-13% in each of the last three contests. Combine that skill with the team’s three-point accuracy, and you have the makings of a pretty good offense despite shortcomings in both offensive rebounding and foul creation.

Defensively, George Mason will rebound. That’s a strength. Oduro also provides some rim protection, and the team does a nice job of getting back in transition.

Here’s my biggest worry for the Patriots, though: They’ve been foul-happy recently, and especially in non-home games.

Allen Fieldhouse probably won’t be sold out, but it still should provide most of its distinct home-court advantage. And that’s something that could cripple George Mason’s chances of keeping this close, as whistles not only have the potential to sideline Oduro but also could push English to reserve players he rarely uses.

KU’s offense was excellent Wednesday against Nevada, and it should find more open threes against George Mason.

But pay closest attention to the foul line. If KU is aggressive and pushes its free-throw numbers up (which I think is likely), this one also will have blowout potential.

Kansas 88, George Mason 64

Jesse’s pick to cover spread: Kansas


It’d be a good time for David McCormack to stay smart and avoid unnecessary fouls. He has a chance for lots of easy buckets against Oduro, and if he continues to pass like he did Wednesday against Nevada, he also should be able to find plenty of open three-point shooters for assists too.

Last game prediction: Kansas 87, Nevada 77 (Actual: KU 88-61) ❌

2021-22 record vs. spread: 3-8

Last eight seasons’ record vs. spread: 133-113-3 (54%)