Never before have the Rams kicked off the season ranked nationally. VCU welcomed Illinois State for the season opener while being ranked in the top 15 in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches Poll. A 36th consecutive sold out Stu, saw the Rams defeat the Redbirds out of the Missouri Valley Conference, 96-58.
Illinois State got a taste of Havoc right away with the Rams forcing a 10 second call on the Redbirds very first possession, which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game as the Rams would find themselves with a twenty point lead just 10 minutes in. Defensively, VCU picked up right where they left off, causing 21 turnovers.
The Rams got help early from their bigs. Senior Juvonte Reddic had his first ten points within the first 9 minutes of the game. He also got help from senior, former Florida State seminole, Terrance Shannon who proved to be an additional threat on both offense and defense. Reddic ended the night with 13 points, Shannon with 14. The two combined for 14 rebounds.
Sophomore Melvin Johnson provided a huge spark for the Rams, at one point going 3-3 from three point land in the span of a minute to help extend VCU’s lead, 35-8 with 7 minutes remaining in the first half. Johnson would finish with 11 points while Junior Jarred Guest added 5 points in his first game back after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason.
With Junior Treveon Graham and Senior Rob Brandenberg with 14 and 12 points respectively, made it 5 Rams who scored in double digits in the season opener.
VCU lit it up from around the arch hitting. The Redbirds had no answer for VCU’s offense as Illinois State was held to shooting just 30% from the field while the Rams shot 57%.
VCU dominance in the middle was too much for Illinois State. The Rams scored almost half of their 96 points within the paint. VCU outsized the team that only returned two players from their roster last season.
VCU travels to Charlottesville on Tuesday where they will take on the University of Virginia in a highly anticipated match up on ESPN 2.