The Georgia State Panthers dominated a downtrodden Hofstra squad on Friday to advance to the second round of the 2012 CAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Forward Eric Buckner led the way, scoring 21 on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting and picking up 11 rebounds. The competition ramps up significantly on Saturday, however. Buckner will go to head-to-head with CAA Player of the Year Ryan Pearson and the George Mason Patriots in Richmond at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
Pearson has been nothing short of dominant this year for the 3-seed Patriots, averaging 17.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. SB Nation's Bill Connelly had the 6'6 left-hander as his No. 1 player to watch in this year's tournament. In the only meeting between the two schools, Pearson was actually held relatively in check, picking up just 10 points and six rebounds. The extra attention on the star forward allowed his teammates to break out, however. Mike Morrison had 14 points and 15 rebounds, and Vertrail Vaughns scored 17 to lead George Mason to a 61-58 win.
If the 6-seed Panthers hope to pull of the upset, they will need to be much better on the boards. The Patriots enjoyed a 36-26 advantage during the January meeting. If Buckner stays hot, and can hold his own against Pearson, this game could be one of the closest affairs of the tournament.
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