VCU took a mid-season trip to the home of the Atlantic Tournament and the results were promising as they dominated their second ACC foe in eight days.
The first half was tough to watch, but Virginia Commonwealth University dominated Boston College 69-50 in the Barclays Center Saturday night.
Just one week after handling Virginia Tech 82-52 in the Richmond Coliseum, VCU dominated another ACC opponent on a neutral court Saturday night. In the two wins, VCU forced 50 turnovers while outscoring VT and BC by 49 points. The Rams are now 3-1 against the ACC this season with all of the games being played outside the comfortable confines of the Stuart C. Siegel Center; however, the VCU Peppas did make the trip to Brooklyn. VCU’s musical sixth man was a popular topic amongst national basketball writers on twitter (as is usual) and even forced Olivier Hanlan to prematurely chuck up a shot with a fake shot-clock countdown.
During the first half, it felt like the rims were worn out from a full day of basketball as shot after shot wouldn’t fall for either team. VCU scored an abysmal 0.65 points per possession while BC scored a sub-abysmal 0.52 points per possession. The Rams, particularly Melvin Johnson, had their fair share of open looks but they struggled to connect.
It didn’t matter because VCU’s defense held BC, the nation’s 30th most efficient offense according to KenPom.com, to 17 first half points. The Eagles hadn’t been held under 24 points in a half or 62 points in a game all season. In addition to struggling to shoot, Boston College made careless turnover after careless turnover.
VCU’s offense picked up dramatically in the second half. Melvin Johnson started focusing on driving where he continued to establish his reputation as one of the craftier scorers in VCU history. Juvonte Reddic got involved on the offensive glass and the Rams started abusing the Eagles in transition. VCU finished with 4 points off of turnovers in the first half and 18 in the second half.
Defensively they continued to dominate. NBA-prospect Olivier Hanlan was limited to 3-10 shooting while turning the ball over seven times. He finished with 17 points because of free-throws but he combined with BC’s other two starting guards Joe Rahon and Partrick Heckmann to finish 4-of-20 from the field and 2-of-12 from 3-point range.
VCU led 69-42 before BC closed the margin during garbage time. It wasn’t always pretty, it rarely is with VCU, but Saturday was another promising sign as VCU wraps up their non-conference schedule. The offense will come and go, but if VCU continue playing defense like they have since losing to Northern Iowa, they will return to Brooklyn in 2.5 months with a very high-seed and a shot at winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Top performer: Rob Brandenberg
28 minutes, 13 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2-4 2FG, 3-6 3FG
Reddic and Graham had better statistical nights but Brandenberg deserves the recognition because he has been struggling from the field this season. He entered Friday with a .424 eFG% and a .302 3PFG%. Over his previous four games, Brandenberg was 2-17 from 3-point range while failing to reach double-figures.
Brandenberg is a senior starter who has scored 1,000+ career points. He is an extremely capable scorer but his inconsistency has plagued VCU ever since his role increased when Brandon Rozzell and Ed Nixon graduated. The bottom line: VCU is an entirely different team when #11’s shots are falling and their ceiling fluctuates based on his offensive production.
- Junior Treveon Graham became VCU’s 34th 1,000 career scorer.
- In the first 13 minutes, VCU turned over the ball seven times. In the next 27 minutes they only tuned it over four times.
- Both teams combined to go 9-of-44 (.204) from 3-point range.
- VT and BC combined for just 34 FGs and 50 turnovers against VCU.
- It is the first time that VCU has beaten three ACC teams in one season and Coach Smart is now 4-4 against ACC teams.
VCU opens 2014 at home against Stony Brook on January 3rd at 9:00 PM.
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