It was far from pretty, but VCU topped University of Rhode Island Wednesday night in the Battle of the Rams, Part 1.
It was far from pretty, but Virginia Commonwealth University topped University of Rhode Island Wednesday night in the Battle of the Rams, Part 1.
With the Rams coming off of back-to-back losses, Wednesday presented VCU with the opportunity to get back on track and build confidence against a team that has struggled this season. Welcome to the Atlantic 10: the difference between a 1-5 team in the CAA and a 1-5 team in the A-10 is eye opening.
Rhode Island undoubtedly has some impressive players. Junior college transfer Xavier Munford can put points on the board, and freshman Jordan Hare is going to give VCU fits for years to come. He finished with 10 points on 5-5 shooting with three blocks, and his athleticism is as good as any forward in the A-10.
Plagued by turnovers and an underwhelming defensive effort, VCU failed to build a lead in the first half. Desperate for stops, VCU even played zone defense on a few possessions, but a quick URI 3-pointer sent them back to man defense.
VCU held a one point lead at the break.
Exiting the locker room, Juvonte Reddic established himself in the second half. His layup with four minutes remaining put VCU ahead by 15-points, but Rhode Island had no interest in rolling over.
A few untimely turnovers, some clutch shots, and 118 seconds later, their lead was an uncomfortable 5 points. The University of Richmond game, when the Spiders overcame a larger deficit with less time came to mind, but VCU ultimately made enough timely plays to seal the deal, 70-64.
For the first time in a few games, Coach Smart went to his bench early and often. The results were extremely underwhelming considering VCU’s depth.
The drop off between Juvonte Reddic/Treveon Graham and HalGuesTuoyo was particularly evident. Jarred Guest picked up four fouls in 10 minutes, Justin Tuoyo picked up one foul in three minutes, and DJ Haley only saw two minutes of action. Teddy Okereafor also saw early minutes, but after not playing since the Duquesne game he looked extremely uncomfortable on defense, and he made errors on offense.
VCU didn’t quite look like VCU–they only hit two 3-pointers, they lost the turnover battle, their bench production was weak–but they still won the game and they currently are tied for 2nd place in the A-10 with Xavier at 5-2.
Top performer: Juvonte Reddic
18PTS, 12REB, 2BLK, 6-10 FG, 6-6 FT
Always hard on Juvonte Reddic, Coach Smart typically judges the junior forward’s performance by intangibles instead of the box score. After the St. Joseph’s game (Reddic had 15PTS, 17REB), Smart said, “What I’m looking for is a look on his face of determination at all times, gritting his teeth.”
After a travel in the first half, instead of hanging his head, Reddic gave a look at the referee and was surprisingly vocal. After the break, he was very assertive, and maybe even the difference in the outcome.
Reddic finished with 16 second half points including several big offensive rebounds. At one point, he scored six points on a VCU 8-0 run to give the Rams a large enough lead to weather URI’s late game comeback attempt.
- VCU only hit two 3-pointers which ties their lowest total since they went 1-14 against Richmond on 12/11/2010.
- Juvonte Reddic tallied his fourth (13th career) double-double in the last five games. He’s averaging 16.1 PPG and 10.4 RPG in A-10 play.
- Briante Weber has 1 assist, 4 steals, and 11 fouls over the past three games.
- Briante Weber has missed his last 15 3-point attempts and Melvin Johnson has missed his last 16.
- VCU is shooting 38-144 (.264) from 3-point range in A-10 play versus 133-369 (.360) out of conference.
VCU hosts the Fordham Rams (Battle of the Rams, Part 2) at 7:00 PM on Saturday for homecoming at the Siegel Center. The game is officially a gold out!
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