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71


Eastern Kentucky (6-2) at Virginia Commonwealth (6-2)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 5, 7 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Verizon Wireless Arena (7,697) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: CSN, CBS 6.3. Home Record: Eastern Kentucky 4-0, VCU 3-0. Away Record: Eastern Kentucky 1-1, VCU 2-0. Neutral Record: Eastern Kentucky 1-1, VCU 1-2. Conference Record: Eastern Kentucky 0-0, VCU 0-0. Series Record: Eastern Kentucky leads, 3-1.

GAME NOTES: Two of the most disruptive defensive squads in the country will go head-to-head on Thursday as the Virginia Commonwealth Rams host the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in non-league play at Verizon Wireless Arena.

This contest is the second of a four-game road swing for the Colonels, who were dispatched by NC State, 75-56, last time out. The loss to the Wolfpack ended a four-game win streak for EKU, which is 6-2 on the season. The Colonels travel to face Longwood next.

VCU also owns a 6-2 record. However, the Rams are looking to build on a short win streak as they have won back-to-back games after an 81-68 trouncing at Belmont on Sunday. Although the Rams showed they could handle themselves on the road, they have also won all three home contests this season. VCU will be the host yet again this Sunday against Old Dominion.

Thursday will mark the fifth meeting between these programs. The most recent matchup occurred during the 1972-73 season when VCU won for the only time in the series with a 69-66 victory in Richmond.

Even though the Colonels knocked down nine shots from beyond the arc, their lack of success closer to the basket derailed them against NC State. EKU was outscored 44-24 in the paint, while having a 44-29 deficit on the boards.

The Colonels only collected six steals in the losing effort, which was far below their season average. EKU is actually second in the country in steals (11.9 pg) as well as turnover margin (+7.9). The ability to force miscues has helped the Colonels hold foes to just 63.4 points per game, while netting 79.9 themselves. Glenn Cosey (19.0 ppg, 5.2 apg) is the leader of the offense with his scoring ability and passing skill. Cosey had some trouble against NC State as he hit just 5-of-14 shots from the floor to finish with 14 points. Marcus Lewis (12.9 ppg, 2.4 spg) and Corey Walden (11.6 ppg, 2.1 spg) are the most effective players at the defensive end.

As always seems to be the case the Rams ability to create turnovers keyed a victory as they topped Belmont. VCU forced 21 turnovers from the Bruins and traded them in for 21 points. Juvonte Reddic turned in a strong effort in the frontcourt, posting a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The only team with more steals on the season than EKU is VCU. Thanks to Shaka Smart's signature HAVOC defensive system the Rams are collecting 13 steals per game. Being able to consistently take the ball away has allowed the Rams to score at a healthy 78.4 points per game clip, despite shooting a pedestrian 44.2 percent from the floor. Treveon Graham (16.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) has fit in as a starter and a reserve this season but regardless of where he begins the game, he finishes strong, as he leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Reddic (12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is beginning to pick up stream after a slow start as he has a double-double in three of his last four games. Rob Brandenberg (10.6 ppg, 2.4 spg) and Briante Weber (10.2 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.6 spg) are the most effective defenders.

For how impressive their turnover margin is the Colonels have yet to be tested against a team like VCU. The Rams will have no trouble clamping down defensively on Thursday and earn another win.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: VCU 79, Eastern Kentucky 62

12/05 10:32:43 ET

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