Virginia Commonwealth (13-3) at George Washington (13-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, January 14, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Charles E. Smith Center (5,000) -- Washington, D.C. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: VCU 8-0, GWU 8-0. Away Record: VCU 2-1, GWU 2-2. Neutral Record: VCU 3-2, GWU 3-1. Conference Record: VCU 1-0, GWU 1-1. Series Record: Virginia Commonwealth leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Commonwealth Rams will attempt to extend a five-game winning streak on Tuesday, as they visit the George Washington Colonials in an Atlantic 10 Conference bout at the Charles E. Smith Center.
VCU rolled by George Mason in its conference opener last Thursday, 71-57. The win continued a nice run for the Rams, who have improved to 13-3 overall, although they are just 2-1 on the road. The Rams will be back in action this Saturday, as they host Duquesne.
The Colonials are also 13-3, but they have not been able to get much momentum going in either direction recently. A 69-56 win over Rhode Island in the first half of this two-game homestand, was just the second in the last four games for George Washington, which is a perfect 8-0 at home. The Colonials will test themselves on the road against St. Bonaventure next.
The Rams have won each of the four previous meetings between these two programs, including an 84-57 rout last year when they met as conference foes for the first time.
Although VCU only connected on 33.9 percent of its shots from the floor against George Mason, the Rams were able to pull out a victory thanks to their defense and free-throw shooting. They forced 19 turnovers and limited the Patriots to 37.1 percent field goal efficiency, while claiming a 28-9 scoring edge at the charity stripe.
By now everyone knows about Shaka Smart's HAVOC defensive scheme, which puts a premium on pressure and forcing turnovers. However, even though teams anticipate the added heat, they have still been unable to neutralize the game plan, which is yielding the most steals (13 spg) in the country. Briante Weber (8.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4 apg) is the A-10's top thief as well as a strong passer when on offense. Treveon Graham (15.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is the club's leading scorer, a role he filled against George Mason with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Juvonte Reddic (11.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Melvin Johnson (10.4 ppg) are also averaging in double figures.
George Washington controlled the action on the interior against Rhode Island, logging a 46-38 scoring edge there. The Colonials were led by Kevin Larsen and Isaiah Armwood, who combined for 27 points and 17 rebounds from their spots in the frontcourt.
The Colonials may not force as many turnovers as the Rams, but they are still a stout defensive team. They limit their opponents to just 65.7 ppg and 41.7 percent shooting, while netting 75.1 pg themselves. Armwood (11.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.5 bpg) is the defensive enforcer for George Washington, with his talent in protecting the rim. In fact, Armwood is tied with Cady Lalanne of UMass for the most blocked shots in the A-10. Maurice Creek (14.8 ppg) and Kethan Savage (13.8 ppg) handle the bulk of the scoring duties, although Armwood and Larsen (10.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg) should not be overlooked.
It takes excellent guard play to break down the HAVOC scheme and the Colonials just aren't skilled enough in the backcourt. However, they have the advantage up front, which will make for a tightly-contested game, but one the Rams will find a way to win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: VCU 72, George Washington 70
01/14 10:33:35 ET