Virginia Commonwealth (5-2) vs. Belmont (7-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 1, 5 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Curb Event Center (5,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: CSN, SNY, ESPN3.com. Home Record: VCU 2-0, Belmont 2-1. Away Record: VCU 1-1, Belmont 2-0. Neutral Record: VCU 1-1, Belmont 1-1. Conference Record: VCU 0-0, Belmont 0-0. Series Record: VCU leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A battle of mid-major powers takes place at Curb Event Center on Sunday, as the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth collide with the Belmont Bruins in non-conference action.
The Rams returned from their stint in the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Friday and coasted to a 79-66 victory over Northeastern. The win allowed VCU to bounce back from an 84-80 setback to Georgetown, as the Rams finished 1-2 in the Tip-Off event. Overall VCU is boasting a 5-2 overall mark.
Belmont battled a team from outside Division I in its most recent outing as it ran over Brescia (102-68) last Tuesday. The win was the sixth straight for the Bruins, who have just a single setback in eight tries on the campaign.
These two teams met for the first time last year when VCU claimed a 75-65 victory in Richmond.
Treveon Graham scored 24 points off the bench on 9-of-12 shooting to carry VCU over Northeastern. The Rams allowed the Huskies to connect on 50 percent of their field goal tries, but by forcing 16 turnovers, and managed to secure 10 more field goals on 14 additional shots.
As is tradition, the Rams have been creating turnovers at a rabid pace in their patented HAVOC defensive scheme. VCU leads the country in steals (12.7 pg), which has helped them win despite allowing teams to connect on 46.3 percent of their shots from the field. Graham (16.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) was playing in his first game as a reserve this season against Northeastern, but it didn't stop him from leading the team in scoring, as he has done all season. Juvonte Reddic (11.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is having a rather pedestrian campaign considering the hype surrounding him in the offseason, while Rob Brandenberg (11.0 ppg, 2.4 spg) and Briante Weber (11.0 ppg, 3.6 apg) are the club's most disruptive defenders.
To the surprise of no one the Bruins had no trouble with Brescia. Belmont recorded an incredible 42 field goals on 61.8 percent shooting from the floor, while sinking 12-of-25 attempts from beyond the arc. Belmont also enjoyed enormous advantages in both points off turnovers (36-6) and rebounds (38-19).
Belmont has been playing consistently well at the offensive end of the floor this season, netting 86.1 points per game on 51.7 percent shooting. The Bruins have actually scored at least 80 points in all but one game, their 69-61 setback against Richmond. JJ Mann (18.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) leads the way for the high-scoring attack as one of four players averaging in double figures. Mann had just 14 points against Brescia, as he only saw 16 minutes of court time in the blowout. Drew Windler (13.9 ppg) and Craig Bradshaw (12.5 ppg) are also reliable scoring threats.
With scorers all over the floor, Belmont will present a real test for VCU's tough defense. However, the Rams are a battle-tested team that doesn't shy away from adversity.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: VCU 77, Belmont 75
12/01 10:35:09 ET