December 18, 2015

Ranked for the first time in a decade, George Washington looks to continue one the best starts in school history.

Having already beaten six teams from major conferences, the No. 21 Colonials should have a good opportunity to continue their early success Saturday against visiting Saint Peter's.

George Washington (9-1) won 46 games the past two seasons while reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and the NIT last spring. It appears the Colonials could be poised for even more success while matching the third-best start in program history.

The Colonials cracked the Top 25 this week for the first time since they were 14th in the final poll of 2005-06.

"We're feeling good," sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen said. "(A 9-1 record) feels good, but we know we can get a lot better."

George Washington has done pretty well through the first month of the season while beating then-No. 6 Virginia, Tennessee, Seton Hall, Penn State and Rutgers. It's lone defeat came 61-56 to then-No. 24 Cincinnati in Brooklyn on Nov. 28.

"There's a lot left in the season though, and we know what we have to do," said Jorgensen, a key reserve who is one of six Colonials averaging at least 8.3 points. "We've just got to handle our business and do what we do."

George Washington has guarded the basketball very well, allowing 66.7 points per game, 39.5 percent shooting, 28.4 from 3-point range and averaging 12.6 forced turnovers. The Colonials might have been at their most dominant on the defensive end in last Saturday's 83-49 rout of Rutgers.

They held the Scarlet Knights to 34.0 percent shooting, 5 of 19 from beyond the arc and set season highs by forcing 22 turnovers and recording 18 steals.

Offensively, 6-foot-9 Wake Forest transfer Tyler Cavanaugh is averaging a team-leading 16.1 points while shooting 51.4 percent and 42.9 from 3. He scored a career-high 22 against Rutgers to pace the Colonials, who have won 21 consecutive nonconference home games by a margin of 20.3 points.

Coming out of its break for final exams, George Washington will try to extend that streak before visiting DePaul and Central Florida next week.

"We've got to really get focused," fifth-year coach Mike Lonergan said.

George Washington has split the six meetings with Saint Peter's (3-5), winning 62-51 in the most recent matchup in December 1994.

"We're going to have our hands full, certainly," Saint Peter's coach John Dunne said. "They're very well coached."

The Peacocks are 1-4 on the road, where they set season lows for points and shooting (32.7 percent) in a 72-46 loss at Seton Hall on Sunday.

"We did compete for 40 minutes but we just couldn't score the ball," said Dunne, whose team is averaging 69.3 points and shooting 41.4 percent. "Every experience you have on the court you have to learn from it."

Freshman guard Antwon Portley is averaging a team-leading 14.9 points despite shooting 38.8 percent. He's gone 3 of 16 in the last two games, and finished with two points and three turnovers against Seton Hall.

The Peacocks are facing their first Top 25 opponent during the regular season since losing at then-No. 11 Xavier in November 2002.

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