Bob Huggins’ 15th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers proved too much for a young VCU squad in yesterday’s semifinal matchup, the Big 12 team downing the black and gold 78-66 in this year’s Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic.
The Rams had a tall task against a WVU defense that ranked third in the country this past season and were limited to just 35.9% shooting in the loss including a 3-21 night from beyond the three-point arc. West Virginia denied the Rams a field goal until 9 minutes into the game.
Despite an early deficit that signaled a possible blowout, VCU battled back to within two in the first and then later trimmed WVU’s nine-point halftime lead to three in the second, but every time the Rams would claw back, the talented Mountaineers led by 6’10 255 junior big, Derek Culver (23 points, 15 rebounds), would have an answer.
Coming off a lights out shooting night the evening prior, star sophomore guard, Bones Hyland, was limited to 5-16 shooting from the field in the loss. Hyland finished with a team-high 13 points in the loss.
Vince Williams chipped in 11 points for the Rams. He was limited to just 1-7 from the field, but turned a number of misses into made free throws, finishing with a respectable 52.3% true shooting percentage against a WVU defense that ranked eighth in the nation the previous season in effective field goal percentage D.
As was perhaps to be expected against what was on of last season’s best rebounding teams, WVU’s massive front court dominated the class, outrebounding VCU 45-31. The Rams did however pick up one small victory, out-havocing Huggins’ 14th edition “Press Virginia” squad to the tune of a 21-15 forced turnover advantage.
The loss moves VCU to 1-1 on the season and will see the Rams take on Penny Hardaway’s talented Memphis Tigers in the third place game Friday at 9PM. Memphis fell in the semifinals to Charles Bassey’s (ESPN class of 2018 5-star) talented Western Kentucky team.
The Tigers are currently ranked within the top-40 on kenpom and offer up yet another big test for this young Rams team early in the season.