VCU looked pedestrian for the first 25 minutes against Duquesne but HAVOC! took its toll and the Rams scored their way to a fifteen point victory Saturday afternoon.
Virginia Commonwealth University topped Duquesne University 80-65 Saturday afternoon in the Stuart C. Siegel Center. The Rams put on an offensive clinic in the second half using a balanced attack and a commitment to attacking the paint.
The best offense before halftime happened prior to the tipoff when Joey Rodriguez won free pizza for everyone in the Papa John’s Shootout. It took the VCU legend six attempts which has to be the record. His former backcourt partner in crime Rob Brandenberg scored 11 points in the first half, but the Rams did little worth remembering as as they struggled to score against Duquesne’s zone defense.
The Dukes didn’t exactly put on a clinic either, but they were effective enough on offense and scored eight points in transition en route to a 31-27 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Rams took the lead and created separation by attacking the paint and using the energy of Terrance Shannon and a pair of 3-pointers from freshman JeQuan Lewis. Then with 5:12 remaining in the game it happened. All of the Rams’ offensive woes this season disappeared for a beautiful 3:05 stretch and VCU scored 17 points.
Melvin Johnson started the run with back-to-back 3-pointers. Seconds later Juvonte Reddic stole the ball and turned it into points on a layup. Then Weber scored seven straight points including a Troy Daniels-ranged 3-pointer. Jarred Guest capped off the 17-6 run with a nice move in the paint after grabbing an offensive rebound. When the Rams score so easily, it feels like time almost stops in the Siegel Center, all the trivial stuff we worry about: recruiting, tempo-free stats, RPI, etc. become irrelevant, and the pure joy of the beautiful game of basketball captures the imaginations of 7,741 fans.
VCU finished with 53 second half points and four players in double figures, but no Ram scored more than twelve points. It was balance at its finest. Ten Rams scored, seven tallied assists, and seven grabbed steals.
Duquesne scored 65 points which is impressive because forward Ovie Soko and guard Micha Mason had non-performances. Juvonte Reddic shut down Soko early in the game, and he finished with seven points on 0-of-5 shooting and four turnovers. Soko averages almost 18 points per game. Mason scored no points on 0-of-4 shooting. He entered the game ranked #1 nationally in offensive rating, he was 25-of-40 from 3-point range, and he had connected on .500 of attempts or more in ten of his eleven games this season.
Take the second half with a Mo Alie-Cox sized grain of salt, but the Rams showed some life on offense. According to KenPom.com, VCU ranks seventh nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, but they are going to need to put the ball in the basket if they want to win their next two games: challenging road tests at Dayton and at La Salle.
Loudest Moment: 108 dBs. Juvonte Reddic missed a dunk, but Terrance Shannon “knew” it was off and he slammed it in to the delight of the Stu. It’s not everyday that a missed dunk gets dunked by another player.
Top performer: Terrance Shannon
14 minutes, 7 points (3-6 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal
“He says I steal all the sparks and sometimes maybe that’s so. Tonight I fed off of Terrance. When he’s like this…this is when VCU plays at its best.” Briante Weber
The whole story of this game defies the idea of a “top performer,” but Terrance Shannon gets the recognition because of how fun it is to watch the redshirt senior play basketball. In wins against Stony Brook and George Mason, he was dominant. In the loss against George Washington he was a non-factor. Shannon is setting the standard for making large contributions in limited minutes off the bench. If everyone else can follow his lead, VCU will be a better team. Oh, and this happened:
“Sexy.” Briante Weber
- In his first 16 games, Briante Weber went 1-of-14 from 3-point range. He’s 4-of-8 over the last two games.
- VCU is 15-of-34 (.441) from the free-throw line in the last two games.
- VCU scored 53 points in the second half. It’s the Rams’ most points in a half since scoring 58 in the second half against ETSU on 1/2/13.
- VCU rebounded 18 of their 38 missed shots for an offensive rebounding percentage of .474. Kentucky leads the nation at .445.
- The Rams now rank 26th in opponent 3PFG% at .297.
- Mo Alie-Cox finished with three assists in only twelve minutes. Twice, he drew the double team and immediately found open 3-point shooters. Juvonte Reddic hasn’t been able to do this all season, but it would make the Rams much better on offense.
- Weber gets some flak for attempting 3-pointers but after the game he said the coaching staff tells him when he passes up that shot it hurts the team. It will be interesting to see if Weber can shoot .300 or better from range moving forward.
- Doug Brooks posted a trillion. This is incredible because Doug Brooks entered the game without attempting a 3-pointer.
- Both VCU and Duquesne finished with 17 turnovers and 10 steals. The Dukes are the most responsible team with the ball in the conference. VCU can’t afford to make that many mistakes against upper-echelon teams.
- Terrance Shannon is a sledge hammer + an energizer bunny, he’s that guy who knows the unlimited turbo cheats in video games, and he is the most vocal senior on this team.
The Rams travel to Dayton on Wednesday at 7:00 PM. The game will be on CBS Sports Network.
— ∮∮∮ —
— ∮∮∮ —