For the first 11 minutes and 43 seconds of this afternoon’s road game the Rams looked to be playing one of their best defensive contests of the season. The following 28:17 however they proved to play one of their worst, giving up 70 points to Northern Iowa the remainder of the contest after a great defensive start including 50 second-half points to eventually fall 77-68 against the now 5-5 Panthers.
The Rams started slow on offense but eventually got it going with a 48-point second half, unfortunately not enough to to overcome the hot-shooting Panthers in snowy Cedar Falls. The Panthers went 0-9 from three for the first half but hit 6-of-10 to finish the game while connecting on 20 of their 30 attempts inside the paint for a blistering 66.6% clip.
On defense, the Ben Jacobson-led squad focused on shutting down senior big Juvonte Reddic after his 24-point domination of ODU, and did just that. UNI held Reddic to just two field goals on five attempts for five points in his lowest scoring total since last January. Fellow starter, Rob Brandenberg, was shut down as well, held to two points, his lowest total since a virtually identical performance at Saint Louis last season.
The Rams connected on just 36.9% of their attempts and had 16 more opportunities from the floor than the winning Panthers squad.
Redshirt freshman Jordan Burgess was one bright spot for VCU however. Burgess had struggled to shoot to start the season but posted a season-high 18 points while hitting four of his six three-point attempts and going 7-13 from the field. Burgess was matched by Treveon Graham with 18 of his own and the Rams got a hot 13 points from JeQuan Lewis off the bench as the freshman hit three of his four three-point attempts.
The Rams return to the Siegel Center Tuesday for a home tip against the Terriers of Wofford at 7PM. VCU follows that up with another big in-state matchup, taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies December 21st at the Richmond Coliseum as a part of the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic.