Virginia Commonwealth (14-4) at Dayton (13-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 22, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UD Arena (13,455) -- Dayton, Ohio. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: VCU 9-0, Dayton 8-2. Away Record: VCU 2-2, Dayton 3-2. Neutral Record: VCU 3-2, Dayton 2-1. Conference Record: VCU 2-1, Dayton 1-2. Series Record: Virginia Commonwealth leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: In a pivotal early Atlantic 10 Conference matchup, the Virginia Commonwealth Rams pay a visit to the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday night.
This past Saturday, the Rams recovered from a 10-point loss to George Washington by posting an 80-65 victory over Duquesne. The win was the sixth in the last seven games for VCU, which is 14-4 overall and 2-1 against the rest of the A-10. The Rams will visit La Salle in their next bout on Saturday.
Dayton, which spent some time in the national rankings earlier in the season, has been less successful since the conference schedule began. A 73-64 setback against Richmond last time out was the second in three tries in league play for the Flyers, who are 13-5 overall, including an 8-2 mark on their home floor. They will battle Rhode Island on the road in their next bout.
When these teams met as conference foes for the first time a year ago, VCU claimed a 74-62 win at home. The victory was the fourth in five all-time meetings for the Rams.
As has been the case in nearly every game this season, the Rams played well on defense against Duquesne, holding the Dukes to 35.1 percent shooting, while forcing 17 turnovers. VCU also held a 36-9 scoring advantage from beyond the arc, and a 48-37 edge on the glass. Briante Weber and Melvin Johnson netted 12 points apiece to pace the team.
VCU has made a name for itself during its time under Shaka Smart, particularly at the defensive end of the court. This year has been no different as the Rams are limiting foes to 64.9 ppg, while ranking first in the nation in steals (12.7 spg). Such a large number of forced turnovers has allowed for a +10.4 scoring differential for the team, despite its own lackluser shooting effort (42 percent). Treveon Graham (15.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg) is the top scoring option on the roster, although Juvonte Reddic (11.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Johnson (10.6 ppg) certainly do their part. Weber (8.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.8 spg) can score, but is better known as a passer, and he is the A-10's leader in steals.
Dyshawn Pierre tallied a game-high 19 points for Dayton against Richmond, but no other player managed more than seven points in the Flyers' loss. Dayton was outscored by a 32-15 margin at the free-throw line, while also suffering 14 turnovers, which was eight more than the Spiders.
Dayton is also a team that plays well on defense, limiting foes to 67.2 ppg and 42.9 percent shooting for the season. The Flyers are also one of the better offensive teams in the A-10, ranking third in scoring (76.1 ppg) and second in field goal percentage (.478). Jordan Sibert (12.1 ppg) serves as the club's top scoring option. However, he was limited to seven points on 3-of-9 shooting against Richmond. Pierre (11.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) is connecting on 52 percent of his shots from the floor, and Devin Oliver (11.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg) is another important contributor.
This is a real test for Dayton, which needs to start picking up wins in conference if has hopes of playing significant games in the month of March. VCU isn't a team that will go down easily, but the Flyers may have enough in the tank to knock off the visiting Rams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Dayton 69, Virginia Commonwealth 66
01/22 10:40:52 ET