#12 Villanova “Mondays” #14 VCU

After a close first half, #12 Villanova caught fire and dominated #14 Virginia Commonwealth University 77-53 Monday night in the semifinals of the Legends Classic.

It’s not worth dwelling on the specific events of Monday night for too long. The Rams played a sloppy first half but somehow managed to only trail Villanova 32-30 at the break. In one of the few HAVOC!-worthy sequences of the night, Mo Alie-Cox sparked a 6-0 run to start the second half before things fell apart.

Capable under-performers from range this season (.263), Villanova found its shooting touch and hit three 3-pointers during a 16-0 in only 2:08. The Wildcats put up 19 points on the Rams before the first media timeout. Treveon “Direct-Deposit” Graham struggled all night with foul trouble and an inability to do anything on offense.

Villanova put together the best passing performance I’ve ever seen against HAVOC! while exposing many of the Rams’ typical early-season weaknesses: half-court offense, half-court defense, free-throw shooting, and fouls. Unexpectedly, the guard oriented Wildcats abused the Rams on the offensive glass to the tune of 14 offensive rebounds. Point guard Ryan Arcidiancono lived up to his anti-HAVOC! billing and delivered a 9 assist, 0 turnover performance.

There’s no shame in losing to a likely top-10 team, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to watch. Villanova Monday-ed the Rams on national television.

A case of the Novembers

Since the Final Four, VCU is now 3-7 at exempt events.

Tournament Opponent Result KenPom Ranking
Charleston Classic Seton Hall L 69-54 59
Charleston Classic Georgia Tech L 73-60 177
Charleston Classic Western Kentucky W 69-64 189
Battle 4 Atlantis Memphis W 78-65 33
Battle 4 Atlantis Duke L 67-58 6
Battle 4 Atlantis Missouri L 65-68 31
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Florida State L 85-67 41
Puerto Rico Tip-Off LBSU W 73-67 148
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Georgetown L 84-80 65
Legends Classic Villanova L 77-53 8

On the one hand, it’s frustrating for people eager for the Rams to take the next step. On the other hand, it’s an encouraging sign because VCU has recovered from disappointing Novembers and gone on to have incredibly successful seasons.

In the three seasons preceding Monday, VCU lost just 25 games by an average margin of 7.84 points. Nine of those games were lost by four or fewer points. Only three of those games were lost by more than 14 points. For a team so accustomed to winning or at the very least being in a position to chuck up a meaningful game-winner at the buzzer, losses like Monday make it feel like the sky is falling, but it’s probably just rain.

2013-14 Villanova is a good example. The Wildcats lost to Creighton twice by a combined 49 points (Creighton started one game by hitting nine straight 3-pointers) and to Syracuse by 16 points. The Wildcats finished the regular season 28-3 and won the Big East by two whole games.

Monday was no fun, but the sun will still rise on Tuesday – and the Rams will fortunately have an opportunity to put this loss firmly in the past.

5 stats

  • Villanova finsihed with 20 assists. VCU finished with 4 assists and starting point guard Briante Weber finished with zero dimes.
  • The Rams tallied zero steals in the first half and just three steals in the game.
  • VCU entered Monday averaging 92.7 PPG but finished with only 53 points.
  • VCU finished just 2-of-17 (.118) from 3-point range.
  • Point guard JeQuan Lewis was limited to just 11 minutes and point guard Jonathan Williams added only 10 minutes.

Looking forward

VCU will play Oregon in the consolation game of the Legends Classic at 7:30 PM on Tuesday on ESPNU.


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Aaron Williams

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

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