Recap: Daniels’s career night leads VCU past ODU

It felt like Troy Daniels could not miss from 3-point range as VCU topped ODU 83-70 Friday night.

VCU rams front

After shooting .273 from the field over the past four games, Troy Daniels had the night of his career as the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams topped the Old Dominion University Monarchs, 83-70, in Norfolk Friday night.

Recap

It took Troy Daniels 17 seconds to hit his first 3-pointer in the final game of his career against ODU. It was the first of many. In one of the best offensive stretches of ODU’s less than mediocre season, the Monarchs scored on the first four possessions of the game to take an 8-5 lead. Starting for the injured Darius Theus who would later enter the game, Briante Weber took over and stuffed the stat sheet with his versatility. He finished the night with an impressive 8PTS, 9REB, 10AST, 5STL, and 1TO. More importantly, he found an open Troy Daniels time after time. VCU pushed the lead to 41-21, but the Monarchs finished the first half on a frenzied 9-2 run including a Deshawn Painter 3-pointer.

Despite dominating ODU in so many ways for the first half, VCU only led by 13 points at the break. Prone to starting the 2nd half sloppily, VCU busted out of the locker room and pushed the lead to 20 before Old Dominion started doing what Old Dominion does: scoring in the paint and grabbing offensive rebounds. The Monarchs finished the night rebounding 21 of their 35 missed shots, an incredible 60% offensive rebounding percentage, and they scored 38 points in the paint.

A large part of that success was courtesy of senior NC State transfer DeShawn Painter. He finished the night with 26 points and 10 rebounds while firmly establishing himself as ODU’s go to guy for the rest of the season. 11 of those points came from 14 free throw attempts. Juvonte Reddic and the rest of VCU’s front-court rotation fouled early and often as they struggled contain the physical Painter.

ODU cut the lead to 12 points multiple times in the second half, but Rob Brandenberg scored five points in 38 seconds to give VCU a cushion. Beating a rival is rewarding, but that cushion was abused as Old Dominion out hustled VCU down the stretch. Shaka Smart’s program is famous for hustle and his frustration was visible. The Monarchs earned easy layups, forced careless VCU turnovers, and totally dominated the glass in the final 7 minutes of the game. At one point, Shaka Smart grabbed the jerseys of Briante Weber and Rob Brandenberg and screamed in their faces despite a double digit lead.

VCU topped a struggling Old Dominion, but that wasn’t, and shouldn’t be, enough for one of the greatest motivators in college basketball. Shaka Smart and Co. will have plenty of teachable moments from this game that they can use over the coming week as the Rams prepare to face a very talented Alabama on Saturday.

Picking apart the zone

ODU is known for using the 2-3 zone. Friday, VCU put on an offensive clinic on scoring against the zone. The Rams patiently passed around the perimeter and over the defense until they found an opportunity. Briante Weber drove the gaps and found open shooters while Treveon Graham drove the gaps and scored efficiently. It was ODU’s full court pressure that gave the Rams trouble. VCU has struggled against full court pressure at times this season including the home loss to Wichita State. It will be interesting to see if opponents use this strategy in the future against VCU. Of course, VCU’s most successful offensive strategy was forcing turnovers and scoring in transition before ODU could set up any defense.

Top performer: Troy Daniels

Troy Daniels has shown greatness, but his on court performances have never lived up to the stories of VCU’s practices. This was the game it finally happened. After connecting on five 3-pointers seven different times in his career, Daniels finally made the leap while hitting 8 of 13 3-point attempts Friday night. In the first half, Daniels couldn’t miss as ODU defenders failed to close out fast enough. He finished the night with 24 points, 18 of which came in the first half.

Treveon Graham finished the night with 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 9 rebounds. Many times he blew past the first defender and got into the lane where he either scored, many times with one hand, or he drew the foul. Graham’s game is maturing more quickly than anyone could have predicted. Only 238 minutes into his sophomore campaign, he is putting up numbers that will land him in many of VCU’s career top ten lists.

5 stats

  • Troy Daniels tied Bo Jones’s VCU single game record for 3-pointers made at 8.
  • Troy Daniels set a career record for points in one half at 18, 3-pointers made at eight, and total points at 24.
  • DeShawn Painter set a career high in points at 26.
  • VCU is the first team to win three games in a row in this heated rivalry since VCU won 10 in a row between 2001 and 2005.
  • 84 points is the most points scored against ODU in the rivalry since an 84-67 victory in 2004.

Looking forward

Anthony Grant’s Alabama Crimson Tide visit the Siegel Center on Saturday, December 15th at 4:00 PM. Last season, the Rams led #13 Alabama in Tuscaloosa with 4:07 remaining but Darius Theus fouled out and VCU collapsed before losing 72-64. The young Rams responded by winning 23 of their next 26 games.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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