Recap: VCU downs #10 Saint Louis

Not even #10 Saint Louis was good enough to end the Rams’ 19-game home winning streak.

Virginia Commonwealth University never trailed en route to a 67-56 win over #10 Saint Louis in the Stuart C. Siegel Center Saturday night.


Despite all of the makings of a defensive battle between the 4th and 6th most efficient defensive teams in the country, offense was everywhere for the first 15 minutes. The teams combined to hit twelve of their first sixteen shots but the Rams’ pressure and work on the offensive glass gave them an early lead they never forfeited.

Treveon Graham connected on a dramatic and rare dunk in the first two minutes which propelled him to nine early points and an important 3-pointer. An 11-3 run gave VCU a 28-18 lead. The Rams finished the first half with a 10 point lead despite Saint Louis connecting on 4-of-6 3-pointers.

Defense took over in the second half and while Saint Louis made an incredible effort, the Rams maintained their cushion. Jordair Jett was sensational driving to the rim. He finished with 18 points but couldn’t get any help from Dwayne Evans or Rob Loe.

We really contained Evans and that was pretty much the key. I’m pretty sure you’ll win the game if you take out that monster. Briante Weber

Juvonte Reddic played great defense on Evans who finished with 4 points on 2-of-11 shooting. He had 21 points in the first meeting. Despite giving up some size, Treveon Graham played great defense on Rob Loe who after hitting the two most important 3-pointers in the first meeting finished with just 6 points.

Reddic and Graham received a huge boost from the bench. Mo Alie-Cox and Jarred Guest were game-changers. Alie-Cox finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Guest grabbed 4 rebounds and blocked a shot, his intangibles were off the chart, and his energy rivaled Briante Weber’s.

With 7 minutes left, VCU and the Siegel Center tightened the vice. Not only were both student sections standing, they jumped up and down for entire possessions. Saint Louis kept on punching, but a Weber steal turned into a Melvin Johnson layup and a Rob Loe offensive foul turned into a nail-in-the coffin Juvonte Reddic dunk.

It took a decade and a contractual obligation for a ranked team to come to the Siegel Center in #17 Oklahoma in 2009. In hindsight that’s probably for good reason. VCU is now 3-0 against ranked teams in the Siegel Center with an average margin of victory of 18.6 PPG.

Protect Our House

“We just wanted to protect our house. We’re undefeated here. We just wanted to come in and do what we do and feed off the crowd.Briante Weber

Clown Fish and Sea Anemone. Oxpeckers and African Buffalo. Crocodiles and Plover Birds. The Siegel Center and it’s fans. Symbiosis is an amazing thing.

It’s the chicken or the egg question. Is VCU this dominant at home because of the fans, or are the fans here because VCU is so good and entertaining? Remember, VCU sold out seven straight games before the 2011 NCAA Tournament. No one really knows the answer, but every athletic director that has visited the Siegel Center is certainly trying to figure it out.

VCU has won 19 straight home games going back to January 30th, 2013 and they are 28-2 in the last two years with two wins over top-25 teams. Their losses were to Final Four bound Wichita State and Sweet 16 bound La Salle. It seems like in every big game, there is a decisive moment where that symbiosis elevates to another level, the fans lock in, the team locks in, and no one stands a chance at 1200 W. Broad Street.

Some of the greatest minds in college basketball don’t believe in home-court advantage but anyone who has experienced one of those moments in “The Stu” should be willing to question the data.

Making Shots is Overrated

VCU shot an abysmal .411 eFG% including a 3-of-16 performance from the 3-point line, but never trailed despite Saint Louis shooting .469. There are teams that win while shooting lights out, and there are teams that simply take a lot of shots. Saturday, VCU attempted 160 points (46 2s, 16 3, and 20 FTs) to SLU’s 122 points (36 2s, 13 3s, and 11 FTs).

The Rams won the turnover battle by 11, grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and were an impressive 16-of-20 from the charity stripe. This Rams team isn’t as effective as putting the ball in the basket as past Coach Smart teams, but they are about as good as it gets at attempting more points than their opponents.

Top performer: Briante Weber

13 points (5-8 FG), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 4 steals

Weber was almost bouncing off the rafters before the game as he paced back and forth in front of his team before the national anthem. He drew first blood in only 15 seconds with a nice drive to the paint and he was VCU’s most efficient scorer of the night. When Briante Weber the efficient scorer meets Briante Weber the defensive menace like on a Saturday, VCU has a shot at beating most teams in the country.

5 stats

  • After losing to a team, Coach Smart is 24-5 in “revenge games.”
  • Briante Weber’s 105 steals ranks 3rd all-time on the A-10 single season list. He is three steals away from the record.
  • VCU is 5-of-32 (.156) from 3-point range against Saint Louis this season.
  • SLU went 4-of-6 from 3-point range in the 1st and was outscored by 10 points and went 0-of-7 in the 2nd and was only outscored by one point.
  • VCU blocked 10 shots. It’s the most blocks for the Rams since blocking 10 shots on 1/2/2010 against UNCW.

Looking forward

VCU visits crosstown rival University of Richmond on Thursday at 9PM. The game will be on CBS Sports Network.

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Aaron Williams

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

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Dee Thomas on said:

    Well-written Recap on SLU visit to “The Stu”…the players should read this uplifting game review before taking on UR this week. A great pregame confidence booster and Spider-squashing motivator! GO RAMS!!

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