Game Preview: No.20 VCU at George Washington

Terry Larrier finished with a team-high 15 points for the Rams in VCU's blowout of GW earlier this season.
Terry Larrier finished with a team-high 15 points for the Rams in VCU’s blowout of GW earlier this season.

VCU looks to snap their only two-game losing streak of the season by picking up their second consecutive win over George Washington in conference play this year. The Rams have won their last three in the series, routing GW 72-48 on January 27 but have two other double-digit blowouts of Mike Lonergan’s squad dating back to last season including a 74-55 rout that knocked the Colonials out of last year’s Atlantic 10 tournament. All of those were done however with the help of Treveon Graham and Briante Weber. Weber suffered a career-ending knee injury that will keep him off the court tomorrow and Graham travels to DC as a game-time decision. The Rams aren’t the only team tomorrow looking for a bounce-back win, as George Washington was stunned Wednesday in the form of a 16-point loss at Duquesne.

No.20 VCU (18-6, 8-3)
George Washington (17-7, 7-4)


You’ve seen these guys before this year but for those of you who weren’t paying attention, here are the CliffsNotes. George Washington has a number of talented pieces inside and out but aren’t particularly deep. They play great defense but can go ice cold on offense. When Patricio Garino, Kethan Savage and Kevin Larsen get it going down low they can beat nearly anyone. When they can’t they often struggle, as the Colonials rank 252nd nationally in 3-point percentage. They employee a 1-3-1 zone defense that often gives teams trouble. Kevin Larsen is a load in the paint but was completely shut down in his last meeting with the Rams. Kethan Savage is an athletic guard who is a pest on D and can really attack the basket. Sophomore Patricio Garino does most of his damage inside the arc but can shoot the three. He dropped 25 on VCU the last time he played the Rams in a home game, a 76-66 George Washington win. Yuta Watanabee is a talented freshman who can really stroke it at 6’9. He did not have his best game however the last time these two met, going 1-7 from the field.


The Rams have fought hard without their senior leaders but have ultimately come up short more often than not. VCU has lost three of their last four games including very rare back-to-back home losses. The Rams have been without seniors Weber and Graham completely in their last two games and have come up just short in both, losing on a buzzer-beater in regulation at St. Bonaventure then falling in double-overtime at home to La Salle. None of the Rams losses have been bad losses in terms of NCAA tournament resume status, but that said, they haven’t been wins either. The culprit? Horrendous shooting. VCU has hit just 35.5% of their field goal since losing Weber and Graham. As a new team in the A-10, that would put rank dead last in the conference, a full 5% below the 6-16 Rams of Fordham. The optimistic VCU fan says that means VCU is due to actually hit some shots. The pessimist says that VCU’s good shooting games are more the anomaly, as the Rams have struggled to shoot even with Weber and Graham in the lineup. A loss tomorrow would give VCU their first three-game losing streak since the 2004-2005 season.

Scoring Offense: VCU 73.5, GW 67.5
Scoring Defense: GW 60.8, VCU 65.5
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 49.4%, GW 48.1%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: GW 45.2%, VCU 48.4%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 34.4%, GW 32%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: GW 30.8%, VCU 33.6%
Rebounds per game: GW 37, VCU 35.2
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 24.7%, GW 19.9%
Turnover Percentage Offense: VCU 15%, GW 19.3%
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: VCU 107.9, GW 103.3
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: VCU 93.1, GW 96.5



I don’t know if this will be enough to give them the win, but if they don’t do this VCU fans are likely to go into a Valentines Day depression, resulting in a V-Day chocolates overdose: HIT SHOTS! You saw the stats in the quick look at VCU, the Rams have REALLY struggled to shoot, and that was even before losing Weber and Graham. Here’s another stat for you: Melvin Johnson is 7-35 from three (20%) in VCU’s six losses this season. That would certainly lead me to believe a solid portion of this team’s success is dependent on the Rams’ primary deep-ball shooter hitting deep balls. VCU basketball is fun to watch. It’s even more fun when we see No.32’s tongue out with three fingers pointed at his temple.


VCU isn’t the only team that needs to hit shots tomorrow. Seems pretty obvious, I know. Usually the team that throws the round orange ball into the circle wins more games than the one that doesn’t, but the point is these are two teams who are both VERY good at playing basketball, yet somehow can look very JV at putting a ball through a hoop (see: both teams’ games from Wednesday). George Washington was 1-17 from three the last time these two teams met. That’s as bad as it gets. What’s more, they only connected on 37.1% of their attempts inside the arc. The Colonials lone win against VCU as A-10 rivals came last season when they hit 65.8% of their 2-point attempts and virtually abandoned the three-ball altogether (only 10 attempts in the win). I think that becomes harder to do with Mo Alie-Cox and Justin Tillman patrolling the paint versus Juvonte Reddic who did a great job of “avoiding foul trouble “(no disrespect, Ju!), but without Briante Weber defending your best guard there may be an opportunity to attack the basket with your guards for either easy buckets, free throws, or assists to an open big.

Kenpom: 65-54VCU win with an 57% chance of a VCU victory.

Game tips at 7=2PM at the Charles E. Smith Center, Washington DC

Watch: ESPN2, Official watch parties at Baja Bean Co. in the Fan as well as Buffalo Wild Wings locations at Virginia Center and downtown on Cary Street in Shockoe Bottom.
Listen: 107.3FM
Live Tweets: @VCURamNation

A two-time graduate of VCU (School of the Arts '07, Center for Sport Leadership '10), Mat is a co-founder of VCU Ram Nation and a longtime fan as the ...