VCU (19-4) at Saint Joseph's (15-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hagan Arena (4,200) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: VCU 12-0, SJU 8-3. Away Record: VCU 4-2, SJU 5-3. Neutral Record: VCU 3-2, SJU 2-1. Conference Record: VCU 7-1, SJU 5-3. Series Record: VCU leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Saint Joseph's Hawks are the next Atlantic 10 team to try and stifle VCU tonight when the Rams step into Hagan Arena.
VCU has been on a tear since the middle of December as it comes into this game seeking a seventh consecutive victory and 12th in its last 13 games overall. The Rams wrapped up a three-game homestand on Thursday night with a 68-52 win over Rhode Island.
Saint Joseph's knocked off 21st-ranked UMass last weekend but then followed that up with a 65-49 loss to No. 13 Saint Louis on Wednesday. The Hawks will conclude their three-game homestand tonight and will have a week off before hitting the road to take on La Salle next Saturday.
VCU holds a 3-1 edge in the all-time series with the Hawks. The Rams swept both meetings last season, their first as a member of the A-10 following a 17- year tenure in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Rams forward Juvonte Reddic had a game-high 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds in Thursday's victory over URI, marking his fourth straight double- double. Jordan Burgess and Treveon Graham chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Once again VCU's Havoc pressure defense was the key, as it came up with 13 steals and scored 22 points off 20 turnovers. On the season, the Rams have forced an average of 19.3 turnovers per game and lead the nation with a +7.2 turnover margin and 11.8 steals per game. They are also +11.0 in average scoring margin. Graham (15.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) is the team's top scorer, Reddic (12.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg) is the top rebounder, and Melvin Johnson (10.1 ppg, .396 3-point FG percentage) is the top perimeter shooter.
The Hawks have a dangerous 3-point shooter of their own in leading scorer Langston Galloway (16.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg), who is shooting at a 44 percent clip beyond the arc (64-of-146). Down low, Ronald Roberts (14.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Halil Kanacevic (11.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg) are there to clean up the glass, and they are both shooting 55 percent or better from the floor on the season. However, Saint Joe's was simply no match for first-place Saint Louis earlier this week, as the Hawks were held to just 31.9 percent shooting on their home floor and made only 1-of-15 3-point attempts. Roberts was the lone bright spot, finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. No other Hawks player reached double figures in the scoring column.
VCU's Shaka Smart is only the sixth coach in NCAA history to reach 130 wins in his first five seasons, as his Rams have done to the A-10 what it so often did to CAA opponents: wear them down. Saint Joe's has the size advantage to keep this one close, but the Rams are simply the more well-rounded team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: VCU 75, Saint Joseph's 68
02/08 10:22:39 ET