The Rams are at it again. The #12 Virginia Commonwealth University Rams upset the #5 Wichita State Shockers 62-59 on Thursday night in Portland, Oregon.
The Rams are at it again. The #12 Virginia Commonwealth University Rams upset the #5 Wichita State Shockers 62-59 on Thursday night in Portland, Oregon. While the game promised to be a classic offense-defense struggle with the Shockers draining shots and the Rams forcing turnovers, neither team really delivered. Surprisingly, it ended up being half court defense and clutch plays that carried VCU to its school record 29th victory.
Both teams experienced early shooting woes as 3rd year coach Shaka quickly subbed through his entire rotation. The senior laden Shockers handled the Ram’s defensive pressure incredibly well by passing through the full court press as they only turned the ball over 12 times on the night. Struggling to wreak HAVOC, the Rams simply outshot the 13th best shooting team in the country to build up a 34-25 halftime lead.
Tweets from last night
In the second half the Rams led by as many as 13 points before Gregg Marshall switched the Shockers to a full court press. Suddenly with Darius Theus on the bench the Rams found themselves getting beat by 94 feet of stiff man to man defense. David Kyles scored seven quick points, and quickly Joe Ragland caught fire utilizing several turnovers and the 3-point shot. Before long the Shockers were within striking distance with all of the momentum as VCU found themselves in the rare position of being on their heels.
With 2:54 remaining, Junior Troy Daniels drained his second 3-pointer to give VCU a four point lead and a modicum of momentum before Wichita State’s Joe Ragland drained a 3-pointer on the next possession. With 2:05 remaining, Toure’ Murry drained a 3-pointer to give the Shockers their first lead of the second half 59-57.
Bradford Burgess got the final word as he drained the go ahead 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining in the game. It was the 4th 3-pointer in a 91 second span and when the dust settled, VCU had regained the lead 60-59.
Stutz missed another shot and VCU called a timeout. When play returned, Darius Theus tried multiple times to get past the defenders on ball screens at the top of the key. With 18 seconds remaining and the shot clock running down, Theus finally found an opening in the lane and he drained a beautiful floater. Theus’s clutch shot forced the Shockers into a shoot to tie situation with 12 seconds remaining and Wichita State called a timeout.
The final break in action seemed like eternity as both teams deliberated. The odds seemed to favor the Shocker’s high octane offense but when play resumed, the Rams switched on every ball screen and they successfully denied the Shockers top options on the final play. When all was said and done, Wichita State attempted one final 3-pointer from 7 footer Garrett Stutz. In a game that VCU was less successful at imposing their will than usual, the Rams forced the Shockers to their last option on the final play as they won the biggest upset of the tournament’s Thursday action.
Only time will tell but after the game Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall had these powerful words about VCU’s place within the field of 68, “Yeah, they’re a good basketball team…44 teams in the country I guess are better than them. So that’s hard for me to imagine.”
The Missouri Valley Conference most improved player and member of the conference’s first team, Garrett Stutz looked to a be a hand full for the young Rams. Despite Stutz’s reputation entering the game, the defense of Juvonte Reddic, DJ Haley, and David Hinton made him look lost. Whether it was Haley’s assertive rebounding, Reddic’s battle for defensive position or Hinton’s willingness to take multiple charges, each player contributed in a different way while containing the Shockers leading scorer and rebounder.
Top Performer: Bradford Burgess
In his NCAA record 145th consecutive straight start, ironman Bradford Burgess played 38 minutes. Burgess led all scorers with 16 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists, and grabbed two steals.
Burgess’s performance goes way beyond the stat sheet. His 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining gave VCU the lead and put the Rams in a position where they weren’t under pressure to score. Burgess was also outsized on defense for a majority of the game, but he was pivotal in controlling the Shocker’s extremely talented front court.
- VCU held Wichita State to its first sub 60-point performance of the season.
- Wichita State shot 38.7% which is a full 9.8% below their season average.
- The Rams only grabbed eight steals which is their lowest total since January 28th against Georgia State.
- Troy Daniel’s two 3-pointers pushed his season total to 92. He is now tied with B.A. Walker for most 3-pointers in a single season.
- The Shockers shot 11.1% from 3-point range in the first half before shooting 57.1% in the second half.
- The Rams are the 9th youngest team in Division I basketball while Wichita States is the 5th most experienced team.
The #12 VCU Rams will face #4 Indiana in the 3rd round of the NCAA tournament, at 7:15pm on Saturday March 17th.
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- Instant Recap: VCU vs. Wichita State; RVANews
- VIDEO: VCU Defeats Wichita State, Advances To Round of 32; VCU Ram Nation
- What to expect: VCU vs. Wichita State; RVANews
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