Rams avoid disaster, survive Kennesaw State

With two minutes and two seconds left in regulation, Jayden Nunn went to the line where he would hit two free throws for the Rams. It was the first lead of the game for VCU after trailing the ASUN's Kennesaw State Owls for roughly 38 minutes prior. The Owls threatened to regain that lead to end the game, but with just under two seconds to play, missed what would have been a game-winning bucket, allowing the Rams to add to their then-one-point lead to escape what would have been a disastrous loss, 64-61.

The Rams outscored the Owls 36-27 in the second half after trailing by six heading into halftime. VCU opened the contest shooting 29% from the field including an abysmal 1-10 from three-point range. But after a few adjustments, came out to hit 55% from the field in the second including 50% from deep.

It was VCU's fourth straight contest without the services of starting point guard, Ace Baldwin, but thanks to a career-high 24 points from sophomore guard, Jayden Nunn, they were allowed to escape with the win to move to 4-2 on the early season.

Nunn went 7-11 from the field and hit eight of 12 free throws for the Rams including the two key ones late to give VCU that first lead. He had just two turnovers of VCU's 14 total on the night, a marked improvement for the black and gold after struggling with giveaways heading into the contest.

Backcourt mate, Zeb Jackson, added nine points for the Rams and was the only other VCU player to play over 30 minutes. Jackson was 2-7 from the field, but got to the stripe where he connected on five of his six attempts.

Starting frontcourt duo, Brandon Johns Jr. and Jalen DeLoach, grabbed seven rebounds each for VCU in a game the Rams were outrebounded by eight. Johns added eight points and two blocks while DeLoach scored six points and had a game-high three blocks.

Jamir Watkins got the other start for VCU, but sat after just under six minutes of action due to a bone bruise he sustained earlier in the week.

Josh Banks continued his solid play off the bench, scoring seven points for VCU in his 16 minutes of action including two key free throws to trim Kennesaw's lead to two late in the game. Banks saw limited play over VCU's first two contests, but has seen an increased role since the injury to Baldwin that he has made the best of, leading VCU in offensive rating at 115.8, one of only three Rams (joining Johns Jr. and Baldwin) to post over 1 point per possession so far for the black and gold this season.

Banks played a bit of an offense/defense roll with sophomore Nick Kern late (Banks getting the offensive nod). Kern logged a season-high 18 minutes for VCU and scored five points for the Rams.

Local product, Fats Billups, played a season-high nine minutes himself after seven total minutes combined during VCU's previous three games. All three of VCU's freshmen saw action including some early PT from big man Christian Fermin who grabbed two rebounds in his five minutes of play.

The Rams will ramp up their degree of difficulty over their next two contests, welcoming Vanderbilt (kenpom No.78) to the Stu on Wednesday before traveling to Philadelphia Saturday for a tricky matchup with former A-10 conference mate, the Temple Owls (kenpom No.99).

 

 
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Natty
Licensed Virginia Realtor and part-time basketball writer. Co-founder of VCURamNation.com and A10Talk.com.
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Mat Shelton-Eide
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