What to expect: If you ain’t first, you’re still not last

Despite trailing Saint Louis by two games, VCU (7-2) and GWU (7-2) have plenty of motivation entering Wednesday’s Broad Street battle in the blizzard.

  • What: VCU (19-5, 7-2) vs. George Washington (19-4, 7-2)
  • Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
  • When: Wednesday, February 12th at 7:00 PM
  • Watch: NBC Sports Network (Comcast 226, 848 HD; Verizon 90, 590HD)
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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After a disappointing loss in Philadelphia on Saturday, Virginia Commonwealth University looks to regroup Wednesday night in a rematch with George Washington University. The Rams lost to the Colonials 76-66 in Washington DC on January 14th.

The Rundown

Right now in the Atlantic 10, there’s 9-0 Saint Louis and then everyone else. There’s the 16-wins-in-a-row, defensive monsters that are the Billikens, and then there’s everyone else. Anyone who has watched Saint Louis knows that they are the real deal.

Unlike Ricky Bobby’s mantra in Talladega Nights, “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” there’s an entire spectrum of talented teams in the Atlantic 10 with plenty of motivation.

Tied at 7-2, VCU and George Washington have more motivation than most. For both teams, it’s about staying in second place with a shot at Saint Louis. For VCU it’s about revenge. The Rams don’t lose often, but when they do, Coach Smart is 22-4 in “revenge games.” For George Washington it’s about making a statement with four talented freshman that the Colonials are going to be a force for seasons to come.

VCU can’t get caught up in Saturday’s loss. The Rams also can’t afford to get lost in the future. They travel to Saint Louis on Saturday and wrap up an unprecedented three game stretch next Friday at Massachusetts. For now, the Rams need to stay focused on taking care of business against the Colonials despite the impending snowpocalypse and nightmarish road trips.

The Team

George Washington scored 76 points on the Rams with their two leading scorers Maurice Creek and Kethan Savage contributing eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with 10 turnovers. Kethan Savage will miss Wednesday with an injury, but the Colonials have plenty of weapons and balance including Kevin Larsen who scored 17 first half points against VCU and Patricio Garino who scored 25 points on VCU.

Defense is still George Washington’s calling card. Their 1-3-1 zone with Patricio Garino at the top made VCU look lost on offense, and it clearly frustrated the Rams who couldn’t get their weave plays or ball screen offense rolling in the game.

VCU forced 21 turnovers and still only scored 0.88 points per possession. The Rams started 6-of-8 from 3-point range before going 3-of-20 the rest of the game. If the Rams repeat those numbers again on Wednesday, it will be tough for them to win even in the comfortable confines of the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

The Star: #1 Maurice Creek

28.6 MPG, 14.0 PPG, .500 2FG%, .383 3FG%, 3.2 RPG, 2.1 APG

Read more: On December 12, 2009, Indiana’s Maurice Creek scored 31 points on a Kentucky team loaded with NBA talent. After three major injuries in 22 months, he’s thriving at George Washington University.

Supporting Cast

#22 Joe McDonald (PG, Sophomore) • Joe McDonald has made the biggest leap of any of the four GWU sophomores. He’s trimmed his TO% from the 30.7% to 24.3%, his offensive rating increased from 84.7 to 109.9, he ranks 57th in steal percentage, shoots .444 from 3-point range, and runs the new Colonials’ greatly improved offense.

#13 Patricio Garino (G/F, Sophomore) • Garino was the difference in the first meeting. His 6-foot-6 frame and even longer wingspan was a nightmare at the top of the 1-3-1 zone, he scored in a multitude of ways, and even went 2-of-3 from 3-point range despite being a guy who makes Darius Theus look like a 3-point assassin. Garino played like he wanted to win, and he took the game.

#32 Isaiah Armwood (F, Senior) • In addition to being an effective scorer, Armwood is the defensive anchor of the Colonials. A Villanova-transfer, he is a shot-blocking menace, and VCU will need to be more deliberate when attempting to score around the basket than during the George Mason game.

#21 Kevin Larsen (F, Sophomore) • Larsen dropped 19 pounds before the season and then he ate VCU’s lunch in the first half of the game earlier this season. The Rams can’t let him repeat his 9-of-11 shooting performance. His strength and mobility could give the Rams headaches for the next 2.5 seasons.

The Prediction

The Metro-Richmond area doesn’t handle weather very well so I’m guessing the game won’t happen. If/when it does, VCU should be highly motivated and extremely comfortable in the Siegel Center. VCU will win by eight points after some late game fouling. KenPom picks VCU to win 72-67 with a 69% chance of victory.

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GWU Profile

  • Location: Washington D.C.
  • Enrollment: 25,500
  • Conference: A10
  • All time series: VCU leads 5-1.
  • Last meeting: 1/14/14. GWU won 76-66.

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Aaron Williams

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

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