George Mason's Jonathan Arledge is heating up at just the right time

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Patriots find scoring from unlikely source

George Mason coach Paul Hewitt has said it so many times this year it's become a mantra.

"We really felt this could be a high-scoring team," Hewitt said on Tuesday. "Quite honestly we've been a little disappointed that we haven't been able to get over 75, 80 points more frequently."

But consecutive road wins over James Madison and Old Dominion have given less reason for Hewitt to wonder where his offense has been as the Patriots rung up 74 and 85 points respectively. Oddly enough, the player helping the Patriots realize their offensive potential is one who has shown little of it in the past.

Up next
Delaware at George Mason
When » Saturday, 2 p.m.
Where » Patriot Center, Fairfax
TV » CBS Sports Network

In the first 79 games of his career, Jonathan Arledge never scored more than 12 points. But in his last three outings, the 6-foot-9 forward has tallied 14, 19 and 21 points. The junior from Silver Spring is the tallest player on the roster but had come up small until recently.

After Monday's win at Old Dominion in which Arledge hit 6 of 11 shots from the floor and all nine free throws, Hewitt asked Arledge to account for his uptick.

"He just said he's just trying to think he's the best player on the floor," Hewitt said. "That's the way he's playing."

Arledge got a rare chance to start when junior forward Johnny Williams suffered a concussion. While many players are exposed when forced to play extra minutes, Arledge has blossomed.

After shooting 36.8 percent as a freshman, 40.4 percent as a sophomore, and 42.4 percent as a reserve this year, the left-hander has made 51.4 percent of his shots in the last three games.

"His confidence obviously is at an all-time high," Hewitt said. "He's doing a better job of not fouling, which is keeping him on the floor. And the other thing he's doing a better job rebounding the ball."

Saturday when George Mason (14-9, 7-4) plays host to Delaware (11-12, 6-4), the Patriots will look for a continued injection of offense from Arledge.

Frontcourt scoring has been a constant headache for the Patriots. Double-digit scoring games have been rare from Williams (four), freshman Marko Guijanicic (three), sophomore Erik Copes (two) and Anali Okoloji (one). As a result, George Mason has leaned heavily on junior guard Sherrod Wright (17.7 ppg).

But on Monday when the Patriots set their season high with 85 points, the Patriots got double-digit scoring from five players for the first time this year, with none of them named Wright. Mason also did it with a collective effort on the boards, out-rebounding ODU 39-26 with the help of Arledge's seven.

Part of Arledge's rise has come by way of simple hard work. Late-night sessions at Patriot Center have sometimes left him too exhausted to walk to the dorm, so he has spent the night in the locker room.

"It's getting late in my career. If I want to continue playing basketball after I graduate, I've got to start to do something now," Arledge told GoMason.com. "If I want it, I've got to go out there and grab it. It's not going to be handed to me on a silver platter."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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