Virginia Commonwealth (18-5) at Charlotte (17-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Halton Arena (9,105) -- Charlotte, North Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: VCU 11-2, Charlotte 11-1. Away Record: VCU 6-1, Charlotte 3-4. Neutral Record: VCU 1-2, Charlotte 3-0. Conference Record: VCU 6-2, Charlotte 5-3. Series Record: Virginia Commonwealth leads, 26-15.
GAME NOTES: Two of the Atlantic 10 Conference's top teams are set for a Saturday evening showdown, as the Charlotte 49ers play host to the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at Halton Arena.
VCU slipped up a bit in late January with back-to-back losses to Richmond and La Salle, but it has rebounded nicely with two straight wins, most recently downing Fordham at home last Saturday, 81-65. The Rams are now an impressive 18-5 this season, and at 6-2 in the A-10, they are tied with Butler and Saint Louis for first place.
Charlotte is one of the conference's biggest surprises, as it sits with a 17-5 overall mark (already surpassing last season's 13-17 record), and it is only a game out of first place at 5-3 in the league. The 49ers have been sliding of late with losses in two of their last three, including an 89-88 heartbreaker at Temple on Wednesday, but the good news is that they now return home where they've won 11 of 12 bouts.
VCU leads the all-time series with Charlotte by a 26-15 margin, but these newly-formed conference rivals haven't met since 1995.
The Rams were far from efficient in their latest game, shooting a lowly 34.3 percent from the field, but 13 of those field goal came from 3-point range, and they earned extra possessions by dominating the turnover battle (22-8) en route to the 16-point win. They were also aided by a stellar 20-of-24 showing from the foul line. Troy Daniels was outstanding in the win, draining 7-of-14 from beyond the arc on his way to 29 points. Treveon Graham added 15 points, with Juvonte Reddic tallied his fourth consecutive double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. On the season, VCU boasts the A-10's most potent offense in scoring nearly 78 ppg, and it's able to pair that great shooting attack with a solid defensive effort (63.0 ppg). Graham is the league's sixth- leading scorer with 16.1 ppg, doing so on greater than 47 percent shooting. Reddic is as steady as they come in the low post with 14.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg, while Daniels (12.6 ppg) and Rob Bradenberg (10.2 ppg) round out the balanced attack.
Charlotte had its work cut out for it earlier in the week when it trailed Temple by 10 with just over three minutes remaining, and while it mounted a furious comeback, it ultimately fell a point shy. The 49ers were on fire from the floor (.604), but could not overcome 19 turnovers. Pacing five teammates in double figures was Chris Braswell with 23 points on 7-of-11 from the field and 9-of-10 from the foul line. Pierria Henry recorded 14 points, nine assists and five steals, Denzel Ingram added 13 points, while Darion Clark and Terrence Williams netted 11 points apiece. Despite their advanced record, the 49ers rank in the middle of the A-10 pack in both scoring offense (68.5 ppg) and scoring defense (64.5 ppg), although their field goal percentage defense (.390) is tops in the league. Braswell is the team's best scorer with 12.0 ppg, and while DeMario Mayfield (11.7 ppg) is hot on his heels, he is currently serving an indefinite suspension. Henry (9.0 ppg, 3.6 apg) and Willie Clayton (8.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg) have stepped up in Mayfield's absence.
Charlotte has been spectacular on its home floor this season, but VCU has not been intimidated on the road, winning six of seven. Both teams bring a lot to the table and this matchup should go down to the wire, but the Rams will find a way to claim victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Commonwealth 75, Charlotte 74
02/09 10:35:46 ET