Nov. 11, 2013
BEAUMONT, Texas -
The Lamar Cardinals (0-1) tipoff the home portion of the 2013-14 schedule Tuesday when they host George Mason in the Montagne Center. The Patriots are 1-0 after knocking off American, 63-60, four nights ago. Lamar enters the game after a tough loss at Butler Saturday night. Lamar played the Bulldogs close in the opening 20 minutes in front of a packed house at Hinkle Fieldhouse, but Butler was able to pull away in the second half.
Although Lamar shot nearly 43 percent from the field and held Butler to under 24-percent shooting from beyond the arc, the Bulldogs were able to find offense in other areas. Sixty-two of Butler's 89 points came in the paint. The Bulldogs also forced 13 turnovers which they cashed in for 20 points, while Lamar was only able to force their hosts into the five miscues.
"Against Butler I thought we were aggressive in the first half, and we really played hard," said head coach Pat Knight. "In the second half I felt like we came out of the locker room and played casual. I believe we got a little happy with how we played in the first half. These kids have to learn that a team like Butler isn't going to roll over for you. They came out in the second half hit us hard and we didn't respond."
Two of Lamar's incoming junior college transfers got out to great starts in the season opener Saturday. Nimrod Hilliard scored 23 points, becoming one of only for players in the Southland to score least 23 points in their opening game of the season. Hilliard was joined by classmate Donovan Ross who added 18 points on 9-of-11 (.818) shooting.
The Patriots return all five starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's squad that posted a 22-16 (.579) record overall, and finished fifth in the conference with a 10-8 (.556) mark. The Patriots opened the season shooting 20-of-47 (.426) from the field against American, but struggled from beyond the arc (4-of-14/.286). George Mason had three players open the season with double-figure scoring performances led by Byron Allen's team-high 20.
The Cardinals are 0-2 all-time against George Mason, with both contests being decided by four points or less, but hosting GMU in the Montagne Center for the home opener might be exactly what the doctor ordered. The Cardinals are 54-8 (.871) all-time in home openers. Lamar won its first 11 home-opening contests, and is currently riding a 12-game home-opening win streak. If Lamar picks up its first win in program history over George Mason Tuesday, it will also set a new program record for most consecutive home-opening wins.
Fans in attendance Tuesday evening will have an opportunity to meet their favorite Cardinal players following the game. The team will remain on the court following the contest to hand out schedule posters and sign autographs for the fans.
Tuesday's home opener will be the team's lone home contest over the course of the next two weeks. Following the game against GMU, the Cardinals will hit the road for the next two weeks making stops in Pullman, Wash., and Salt Lake City, Utah for the Global Sports Showcase before returning home to host Texas-Pan American.