Inside the numbers: VCU Jekyll and Hyde in halves early this season [INSIDER]

After one of the better opening halves of VCU's season so far, the Rams collapsed against Old Dominion Wednesday night, watching what was a 17-point lead at one point in the first turn into an eventual 10-point loss in Norfolk.

It was a pattern that Ram fans have become accustomed to this season, watching the same thing happen in back-to-back games against former CAA rivals, VCU having just come off an OT win over Hofstra in a game the Rams led by 13 at the half in the Siegel Center this past weekend.

The Rams have gone from looking like one of the best versions of VCU we've seen on Broad St. in the first half of these past seven games, to mere mortal, if not outright bad in second half action.
First half ppg scored: 35.3 (145th nationally)
First half ppg allowed: 23.4 <span style="color: #339966;">(3rd)</span>

Second half ppg scored: 29.4 <span style="color: #ff0000;">(343rd out of 353 teams)</span>
Second half ppg allowed: 36.9 (130th)

Simple numbers that seem easy enough to understand, but let's dive into them a little.

For starters, there are currently 52 teams in the country that limit teams to under 30 points in first halves of their contests this season. That number drops to just eight teams in second halves.

Only Texas Tech, Michigan, San Francisco and Kansas State are holding opponents below 30 points in both halves of their games this season.

VCU's 36.9 points allowed in second halves is just one field goal allowed away from making them a top-75 caliber defense in both halves of play, so while it may feel like the Rams forget how to defend from half-one to half-two in a majority of contests this season, that's basically the norm in college hoops -- former VCU coach Will Wade's LSU Tigers are allowing 41.4 second half points while Shaka Smart's Texas Longhorns are giving up 36.3 second half points.

So clearly the key issue is the Rams abysmal second half offense. For comparative purposes...

LSU 40 points per 1st half, 40.3 points per 2nd
Texas 38.8 points per 1st, 37.2 points per 2nd

Last year's Rams averaged 37.5 points per first half before posting 37.6 points per second half. Rhoades' final Rice team ranked 40th nationally in first half scoring -- with Marcus Evans -- at 37.2 points per first before dumping 43.2 on opponents in the second half (ninth nationally). His Owls ranked 34th nationally in Evans' freshman season in second half scoring at 41 points per half.

This is new for Rhoades. The trick for the second-year VCU head coach will be in figuring out how to crack the code of this season's personnel. History suggests the Rams should be fine, but that makes the present no less comfortable for the black and gold faithful who have witnessed more VCU collapses this season than throttlings.
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Mat Shelton-Eide
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