Western Kentucky University won the tip, but it was all downhill from there as VCU crushed the Hilltoppers, 76-44.
Western Kentucky University won the tip, but it was all downhill from there as Briante Weber quickly stole the ball and dunked it on the fastbreak. The Virginia Commonwealth University Rams never looked back as they crushed the Hilltoppers, 76-44, Tuesday night in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
The first five minutes and 58 second of the game were amazing from VCU’s perspective and terrifying for Western Kentucky. After fourteen possessions, WKU found themselves in a 15-3 hole. The Hilltoppers turned the ball over 10 times, missed three shots, and hit one wide open 3-pointer.
With starting point guard Jamal Crook and leading scorer TJ Price out due to injuries, the turnovers and offensive inefficiency continued and WKU found themselves down 42-16 at halftime.
VCU has been prone to sloppy second halves this season, particularly when they are up by double digits. Western Kentucky came out of the locker room ready to play, and they did for two minutes outscoring VCU 9-3, but Darius Theus re-entered the game and shut down the Hilltoppers. Theus played the next six minutes and 40 seconds, his only minutes of the second half, and WKU didn’t score a single point as VCU went on a 10-0 run.
Up by 30 points, head coach Shaka Smart began experimenting with different lineups, and he backed off the full court pressure, but it didn’t slow down the Rams. Reserve point guard Teddy Okereafor drained a 3-pointer and handled the ball with poise. Freshman forward Justin Tuoyo drained a much desired 3-pointer as VCU kept rolling.
This game was even more lopsided than the 32 point margin suggests. Up 73-34, Coach Smart put in one of the least experienced lineups possible. Freshman Justin Tuoyo, freshman Melvin Johnson, sophomore Jarred Guest, sophomore Teddy Okereafor, and walk-on David Hinton finally allowed the Hilltoppers to score as WKU finished the game on a 10-0 run.
Briante Weber led all scorers for the first time in his career with 13 points on very efficient 5-of-7 shooting. Rob Brandenberg added 12 points including 3-of-7 3-point shooting, Reddic had 12 points but struggled from the field, and Treveon Graham had 10 points. All 12 players, including walk on David Hinton, contributed to VCU’s 28 field goals, and no Ram played more than 23 minutes.
VCU finished the night forcing 32 turnovers, scoring 34 points off turnovers, and grabbing 20 steals (free nachos for everyone at Baja Bean Co. with a ticket!) while limiting a decent team (better than Winthrop, Stetson, and ODU) to 34 points in the first 37 minutes.
- Loudest moment: 103 dB. It happened three times, but the best moment was when David Hinton scored with 4:37 remaining.
- Shaka Smart’s jacket: 19:31 in the 1st half.
At the moment
VCU has now won five games in a row by an average margin of 22 points. Two of those games, a 10 point victory over Belmont and a 19 point victory over Alabama are against 2012 NCAA Tournament Teams that will likely go dancing in 2013. VCU plays three of its weakest opponents over the coming weeks when it hosts Longwood and Fairleigh Dickinson before travelling to East Tennessee State. When asked if he was ready for the A-10, Smart responded, “No, we need four more non-conference games because that’s what we have.” Smart, just like his players, is here in the moment just trying to get better every day.
Top performer: Briante Weber
13PTS, 5REB, 5STL, 2AST, 0 turnovers, 5-7 shooting
Picking up his 3rd consecutive start after the injury of Darius Theus, it took Briante Weber 13 seconds to start stuffing the stat sheet. Against a talented offensive rebounding team, Weber led VCU in defensive rebounds while also being a lockdown on-ball defender in the full court and half court. After the game, analyst Jon Rothstein commented, “If there is a better perimeter defender in the nation than Briante Weber, then I’d really like to see him.”
When asked if Briante Weber would keep his starting role, Coach Smart said, “Right now our starting lineup is what it is, and I don’t see it changing before Friday.” Smart also said Theus would likely eventually return because he’s the team’s leader. One thing is certain, VCU has two quality point guards than can defend and distribute at an elite level.
- All eight of VCU’s victories have been by double digits with an average margin of 22.75 points.
- Darius Theus played 31 defensive possessions while allowing only four points and one field goal. When he was on the court, VCU allowed 0.13 points per possession. The national average is .99 PPP.
- 21 of Darius Theus’s 31 defensive possessions ended in turnovers.
- Six of Darius Theus’s 31 defensive possessions ended in steals. That’s a steal percentage of 19.4%. Briante Weber leads the nation at 8.8%.
- Brandon Harris’s nine turnovers is the most by any player against VCU this season. It’s more than the eight total turnovers by Duke.
VCU hosts the Longwood Lancers on Friday at 7:30pm. The game will be televised on CBS 6.3.
Photos by: Kyle LaFerriere
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- PHOTOS: VCU vs. Western Kentucky
- Briante Weber’s steal and breakaway dunk makes SportsCenter’s #5 play of the day; YouTube