#5 VCU handed #12 Akron a record setting 88-42 beat down Thursday night in the Palace of Auburn Hills.
5th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University handed 12th-seeded Akron a record setting 88-42 beat down Thursday night in the Palace of Auburn Hills.
HAVOC! defense gets plenty attention, but Coach Smart won’t hesitate to remind people that HAVOC! is the whole system: the defense AND the offense. It’s wild suffocating full court pressure, AND uptempo offense, plenty of 3-point attempts, crashing the offensive boards, and playing aggressive, confident, loose basketball.
The Rams could have beaten the depleted and outmatched Zips in a multitude of ways on Thursday night. VCU could have casually taken advantage of the Zip’s short handed perimeter en route to a comfortable 10-point victory, but they didn’t. Instead, they ran straight into the the mouth of the beast with the ferocity and unabashed aggression RVA has come to love–in this case a shot blocking/altering, defensive beast.
Akron entered the game ranked 12th in 2-point defense in a large part thanks to Zeke Marshall, a man whose college career ended Thursday with 368 blocks. Marshall had 6 blocks against VCU last year, and he caused serious problems, but coach Smart was willing to move on, “Zeke Marshall’s a great shot blocker, but the last thing you want to do is over-respect them. You want to go at them.”
VCU went straight at him, and then some. Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic scored the Ram’s first twelve points attacking the paint. Reddic in particular put on a clinic showing off some of his best moves that could one day make him a living at the higher level.
The hard work paid off enabling Troy Daniels to catch fire from the perimeter. The pressure of the built-for-speed Rams wore down the much bigger, slower Zips. Akron coach Keith Dambrot commented after the game, “We used so much energy trying to get the ball up the court, we couldn’t guard them.”
It was the Rams’ high-octane 2011 offense meet their high-pressure, stingy 2012 defense, and the results were impressive.
After 90 seconds the game was tied at 6-6, but a 15-3 VCU run fueled by impressive shooting knocked Akron onto their heels for the remainder. The Zips never recovered. Using his weight and size advantage over Treveon Graham, Demetrius Treadwell started scoring, but Akron was unable to make stops. Treadwell finished with a team-leading 15 points. A buzzer-beating layup by Juvonte Reddic gave VCU a 50-25 halftime lead.
Treadwell would only score three points in the second half, and he wouldn’t connect on another field goal. Three Zips hit a combined six shots in the second half while Akron turned the ball over 12 times. With about 10 minutes remaining, Smart called off the traps and with six or seven minutes remaining he called off the press entirely.
VCU reeled off run after run, but here’s the important one: after trailing 6-4, VCU outscored Akron 84-36. Despite facing the depths of VCU’s bench, the Zips were limited to 17 second-half points. That’s the fewest points allowed by the Rams in the 2nd half all season and one short of the season record of 16 points allowed in the first half against Western Kentucky.
Remember when almost winning an NCAA tournament game in 2004 felt great? Remember when beating Duke was the defining moment of the last decade of VCU basketball? Well, after three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament with a 7-2 record (and counting), Coach Smart and both sides of HAVOC! have redefined the standards for VCU basketball forever.
Already without suspended point guard Alex Abreu, Akron was forced to deal with more adversity at the last moment. Brian Walsh and his roommate Pat Forsythe were fighting a serious flu that included an overnight trip to the emergency room, and Deji Ibitayo was unable to play due to back problems.
Top performer: Troy Daniels
23 points, 5 rebounds, 8-13 shooting, 6-11 3-point shooting
After finishing scoreless in 17 minutes of action against Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 tournament finals, Troy Daniels was back with a vengeance on Thursday. He struck early and often from 3-point range, and he even hit an uncharacteristic two 2-pointers.
With 123 3-pointers this season, Troy Daniels is now tied with Darnell Harris at 3rd place on the Atlantic 10 single season 3-pointers list. Daniels is 12 3-pointers short of the record.
- Thursday’s 46 point margin is the largest ever by a 5-seed over a 12-seed.
- Junior Juvonte Reddic scored 16 points in the first half making him the 32nd Ram to score 1,000 points.
- In the first 30 minutes, VCU turned over the ball once while forcing Akron to turn over the ball 16 times.
- Troy Daniels never hit more than five 3-pointers in a game in his first three seasons. This season he has games with 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11 3-pointers.
- VCU was the only 5-seed to win on Thursday. #12 Oregon beat #5 Oklahoma St. and #12 California beat #5 UNLV.
#5 VCU will face #4 Michigan at 12:15pm on Saturday. The Wolverines lead the nation in offensive turnover percentage at 14.3% and VCU leads the nation in defensive turnover percentage at 28.7%. Can HAVOC! slow down Trey Burke, the nation’s best point guard?