Northeastern takes care of George Mason, extending CAA lead to three games

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With preseason favorites Drexel and Delaware getting off to slow starts, it seemed as if the Colonial Athletic Association race would be one destined to involve a number of teams.

But at this point the most intriguing race may be that for second place, as Bill Coen’s Northeastern Huskies moved to 8-0 in CAA play and are three games up on the competition following their 71-51 victory over George Mason.

Quincy Ford and Joel Smith scored 15 points apiece for Northeastern (12-7, 8-0), who hasn’t lost since December 29 at UAB (that loss capped a stretch of six losses in seven games), and the Huskies limited George Mason to 33.9% shooting from the field.

Vertail Vaughns scored 13 points to lead the way offensively for the Patriots (12-8, 5-3), who remained close in the first half by scoring ten points off of seven Northeastern turnovers. The Huskies turned the tables in the second half, scoring 13 points off of seven George Mason turnovers and shooting 56.5% from the field.

After a Sherrod Wright three-pointer cut Northeastern’s lead to four (49-45) with 6:35 remaining the Huskies finished the game on a 22-6 run, closing the door on the Patriots and possibly the rest of the CAA in the process.

Entering Sunday’s contest the Huskies won five of their seven CAA games by five points or less (thanks to @defiantlydutch for that statistic), meaning that a visit from their closest competition gave Northeastern the opportunity to make a statement.

Smith (16.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.1 apg) and Jonathan Lee (13.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.4 apg) have been the experienced hands leading the way, with underclassmen Ford (13.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Reggie Spencer (10.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg) producing as well. And freshman forward Dinko Marshavelski added 11 points off the bench against George Mason.

The Huskies are balanced, they share the basketball (1st in the CAA in assists/game) and they’ve been efficient offensively, currently leading the CAA in offensive efficiency, field goal and three-point percentage.

That recipe’s been enough to put Northeastern in firm control of the CAA race, despite the fact that they’ve had issues defensively (ranking 10th in both field goal and three-point percentage defense). Their fans hope that Northeastern can turn this start into the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1991.

Photo credit: Northeastern University (Quincy Ford)

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Tennessee G Hubbs undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery

Robert Hubbs III, Anton Beard
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee guard Robert Hubbs won’t practice this week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.

The school said in a news release that Hubbs had it done “to address chronic swelling issues that have been present since the preseason.”

No timetable has been set for when Hubbs could return to action, but he is considered doubtful for Tennessee’s next game on Dec. 12 at Butler. Tennessee (4-3) is in the midst of a 13-day break from games, which marks the program’s longest layoff during a season since December 1967.

Hubbs is averaging 15.3 points per game to rank third on the team. The 6-foot-4 junior has scored at least 13 points in each of Tennessee’s seven games.

Clemson lands 2017 guard

Brad Brownell
AP Photo
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Clemson landed a quality commitment on Tuesday as Class of 2017 guard A.J. Oliver committed to the Tigers. The son of Clemson women’s head coach Audra Smith, Oliver is regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, although some others view him as a top-100 caliber player.

The 6-foot-4 Oliver attends nearby Daniel High School and should have some time to get acclimated with the players and coaches before he sets foot on campus. A versatile guard who plays hard, Oliver showed that he can make plays with the ball in his hands this summer with the Upward Stars.

Oliver is Clemson’s first commitment in the Class of 2017 and it’s a strong start for head coach Brad Brownell.