#14 Virginia Commonwealth University hosts crosstown-rival Richmond, Saturday afternoon in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
- What: #14 VCU (17-3, 7-0) vs. Richmond (11-9, 4-3)
- Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
- When: Saturday, January 31st at 2:00 PM
- Watch: ESPN2
- Listen: Rams Radio
Judging solely by statistics from Atlantic 10 play, it’d be tough to guess Richmond is 4-3. The Spiders lead the league in free-throw percentage (.795) and offensive turnover percentage (.148), and are second in 3-point percentage (.400) and 2-point percentage (.568). Their offense ranks second in efficiency and the only elements they struggle with are offensive rebounding, which is expected becuase the Spiders don’t attack the offensive glass, and free-throws per field goal which can be explained by their methodical Princeton-style offense. Defensively, the Spiders rank fifth in the league.
The exceptional offense and solid defense seem incommensurate with the record. The problem is, the variance of Richmond’s play based on venue is extreme. Richmond is 0-7 on the road this season and has just one neutral court win. In the Atlantic 10, they are 4-0 at home with several dominant victories and are 0-3 on the road:
On Saturday, the Spiders will hop on the bus to visit the Siegel Center where VCU has sold out 60 straight games and has won 29 of its last 30 games, while seniors Briante Weber, Treveon Graham, and Jarred Guest have 52 of 56 games.
Richmond is undoubtedly capable of picking up its first road win on Saturday. Despite the mounting sum of Ls, four of their last five losses have been by three or fewer points. If the experienced Spiders stick to their game plan, Saturday should be much closer than than VCU’s 72-48 domination of George Washington on Tuesday.
Richmond’s Princeton Offense is capable of putting up points and capitalizing on the Rams’ pressure. Without Cedrick Lindsay in the past two meetings, Richmond struggled, But they’ve replaced him by running the offense by committee. Kendall Anthony, Trey Davis, and ShawnDre’ Jones have all been effective, and Richmond boasts forwards that can catch in the post and then kick to open shooters.
Defensively, they run a matchup zone that has troubled VCU at times and at other times has been unable to slow down the Rams. When the Rams aren’t forcing turnovers and getting out in transition, Richmond is capable of keeping the game in the 50s where the Spiders are much more comfortable.
If Richmond can use the committee to limit turnovers and keep the Rams out of transition, it could create a virtuous circle that keeps the Spiders in the game. VCU needs to maintain the defensive intensity of Tuesday night, continue getting contributions from Terry Larrier and JeQuan Lewis, and hope that Melvin Johnson and Jordan Burgess can bust out of their slumps in order to assure their 13th consecutive victory.
THE STAR: #0 Kendall Anthony
16.0 PPG (73-141 2PFG, 40-99 3PFG, 53-65 FT), 1.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.5 TOPG
With Cedrick Lindsay in the backcourt, Kendall Anthony went off for 31 points in the Robins Center against VCU last season. In the Siegel Center, he scored 20 points against VCU in the game that ended Lindsay’s career. Without Lindsay, Anthony scored 7 points on 2-of-15 shooting with 3 turnovers and 4 fouls against VCU in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Regardless of allegiance, KA 2.0 is fun to watch because he’s the hardest working player in blue and red, no matter how things are going–and it’s always a roller coaster. In A-10 play, he’s 1-of-12 on the road from 3-point range and 8-of-19 at home. He’s a lightning-quick, workhorse, senior guard who can catch fire and score in bunches. Yet other times, it’s a train-wreck. Sit back and enjoy his final visit to the Siegel Center, it promises to have a little bit of everything.
#5 Trey Davis (G, Junior) • He’s an invaluable defender on the wing and while his stats aren’t gaudy, he starts because of his ability to do a little bit of everything.
#11 Deion Taylor (F, Junior) • Taylor shot 24-of-60 from 3-point range as a freshman and was a matchup nightmare. He’s 19-of-90 since then including 2-of-23 this season.
#10 T.J. Cline (F, Sophomore) • He hit 40 3-pointers as a freshman at Niagara before transferring to Richmond. At 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, he makes for a difficult matchup.
#15 Terry Allen (F, Junior) • Last March, Allen posted 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and three steals against Duquesne. He’s picked up where he left off last season. He’s second on the team in points, first in rebounds, second in blocks, and second in steals.
#3 ShawnDre’ Jones (G, Freshman) • He’s an exceptional offensive player, but at 5-foot-10, 155 pounds he’s a defensive liability, especially when he shares the court with Anthony.
#33 Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (F, Junior) • He’s been stuck at one step away from dominant since freshman year. When things are clicking he’s a scoring, rebounding, shot-blocking machine, but sometimes he’s a non-factor. He blocked 140 shots in his first two seasons.
KenPom picks VCU to win 69-60 with an 83% chance of victory.
- Location: Richmond, Virginia
- Enrollment: 4,350
- Conference: A-10
- All-time Series: VCU leads 45-26.
- Last Meeting: 3/14/2014. VCU won 71-53.