VCU won game-1 in the unplanned series 69-64 after battling back from a 12-point deficit.
Rob Brandenberg lead the Rams with 18 points, getting six from long range but finding most of his success probing the paint. Darius Theus found success in much of the same way as Brandenberg, scoring 12 of his own, eight of which came close to the basket.
The Hilltoppers will no doubt look to keep the young VCU guards out of the lane, while also limiting VCU’s bigs as they did in game-1. The Rams got a combined seven points out of centers DJ Haley, Juvonte Reddic, and starter Heath Houston in the win, also holding the trio to just seven rebounds in the contest. VCU will have to do a better job of keeping their bigs in the game, but can only happen if the sophomore giants can cut down on the fouls, 10 total in a combined 41 minutes out of the aforementioned three.
Despite the reputation VCU earned in last year’s tournament as a deadly 3-point team, the Hilltoppers zone looks dared VCU to beat them from long distance. With the Rams’ most accurate 3-point shooter, Troy Daniels, hitting just 34% of his shots from downtown, there’s a good chance VCU will see a bit more of the same in game-2. This time, they may have to do better than 7-of-20 in a hostile E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY to get the win.
VCU will come out aggressive and look to stay aggressive against the Hilltoppers on Wednesday night. The Rams attacking defense was responsible for ten steals and saw their former Sunbelt rival turn the ball over 20 times en route to the VCU “W”.
There will also be less of an element of surprise in the rematch, as VCU watched WKU guard TJ Price lead the Hilltoppers with 17 points in his first appearance of the season. Price was a deadly 4-of-6 from long range, odds are he won’t get that open again.
The last time VCU faced an opponent in back-to-back games, Shaka Smart’s 2009-2010 squad finished off the St. Louis Billikens in the CBI Championship series, winning 68-56 in Richmond and then 71-65 in St. Louis. Hopefully “Sequel” Smart can stay undefeated in back-to-back game-2s.
The game tips off at 8PM and can be seen on Comcast channel 722, Verizon Fios 302, and Direct TV 623. Can’t get in front of a computer or TV to follow the action, follow @VCURamNation through twitter and receive updates straight to your phone.