The Rams had a very un-VCU like start to tonight’s second round Battle 4 Atlantis game against the 5th-ranked Duke Blue Devils, and behind an offense that struggled to hit shots, came up short in tonight’s 67-58 loss.
VCU has made a living under Shaka Smart with a fast-paced havoc system that turns teams over on the regular, but saw just eight turnovers on the evening from the mature Blue Devil squad.
To make things worse, VCU struggled to make baskets in the half court, connecting on just 33% of their attempts, 4-of-20 from long range just a night after the Rams shot 59% from three to defeat Memphis.
With all of their offensive struggles however, the Rams kept things close, watching a one-point halftime deficit balloon to that of a 12 point disadvantage with just over 14 minutes to play.
VCU fought back over the following five minutes, cutting the Duke lead to just four with 9:21 on the clock.
Down six with 7:56 left to play, VCU reverted to the poor free throw shooting team we last saw against Wichita State, missing six straight attempts, including the front end of two one-and-ones, a devastating portion of a scoreless 5:17 for the Rams.
The Coach K led squad outshot VCU 9-2 from the free throw stripe over the final 5 minutes of the game.
Juvonte Reddic led the Rams with 16 points and 13 rebounds, his second double-double of this young season.
Treveon Graham kicked in 16 as well. The sophomore added eight rebounds, five of which coming on the offensive end of the court.
Rob Brandenberg had nine points and five rebounds for the Rams. Brandenberg was a bright for for VCU at the free throw stripe, hitting all of his five attempts, but went 0-5 from long range after hitting a perfect 5-5 the previous night.
The Rams will take on the loser of #13 Missouri and #2 Louisville at 7PM tomorrow on NBC Sports Network in the battle for third place of this season’s stacked Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.