Saint Joseph's (9-5) at (22) Virginia Commonwealth (14-3)
Thursday, January 17, 9 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Mike Castiglione, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Siegel Center (7,693) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: St. Joseph's 4-2, VCU 9-1. Away Record: St. Joseph's 4-2, VCU 4-0. Neutral Record: St. Joseph's 1-1, VCU 1-2. Conference Record: St. Joseph's 1-1, VCU 2-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Saint Joseph's Hawks will step into the Siegel Center for an Atlantic 10 Conference showdown with the 22nd-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
Saint Joseph's, the preseason A-10 favorite, has picked up its play of late with wins in four of its last five outings. Most recently, the Hawks ventured to Duquesne on Saturday and claimed a lopsided 74-66 victory. It also marked the third straight win on the road for the Hawks, who will return home for three straight games following tonight's contest.
VCU has not had much trouble adjusting in its first year as a member of the A-10 after moving over from the Colonial Athletic Association, as the team is off to a 14-3 start and sits 2-0 in league play. The Rams extended their winning streak to 11 in a row with Saturday's 72-65 victory at St. Bonaventure. The win streak is currently the third-longest in the nation, and as a result the Rams now find themselves ranked for the first time since 1984-85.
The all-time series between these two schools is tied, 1-1, although this marks the first meeting since 1982.
Saint Joseph's grabbed a 40-33 halftime lead at Duquesne after shooting 52 percent from the floor in the first half and knocking down 7-of-13 3-pointers. That early lead proved critical as the Hawks cooled off in the second stanza, shooting just 9-of-28 from the floor (.321). With Duquesne threatening late in regulation, Langston Galloway scored back-to-back buckets to stretch the Hawks' lead from 66-64 to 70-64 with just over a minute to play. Saint Joseph's ultimately sealed the victory with free throws down the stretch. Galloway finished with a team-high 16 points, while Carl Jones scored 15, and Ronald Roberts notched his sixth double-double of the season, scoring 13 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
On the season, Jones and Galloway share team-high scoring honors with 14.8 ppg apiece, as that duo has combined to knock down more than half of the team's 3- pointers. C.J. Aiken (11.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Roberts (10.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg) have been steady in the paint.
For VCU, Treveon Graham leads the way with 15.5 ppg to go along with 5.5 rebounds. Second-leading scorer Troy Daniels warrants plenty of defensive attention along the perimeter, where he is shooting 44 percent and leads the nation in 3-point field goals per game (4.12). Down low, Juvonte Reddic is shooting a healthy 54.1 percent from the floor, while posting 13.3 points and a team-best 7.4 boards per game. Rob Brandenberg rounds out VCU's double-digit scorers with 10.5 ppg.
In Saturday's win over St. Bonaventure, Graham registered a team-high 17 points, with 13 of those points coming after halftime. VCU dialed up coach Shaka Smart's famed "havoc" defensive pressure to stave off a late rally, holding the Bonnies scoreless for a stretch of nearly five minutes late in regulation. On the offensive end, Daniels joined Graham in double figures with 10 points, as the Rams shot an efficient 52 percent from the floor.
The Rams have made it quite clear they won't be backing down from any team in their new conference, although they face a tough test against the surging Hawks. Still, the Hawks will have their hands full with VCU's full-court press and up-tempo offensive style, particularly on the Rams' home court.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: VA Commonwealth 68, Saint Joseph's 60
01/17 10:35:42 ET