College Basketball Nation: Jamal Crook

With the possible exception of Ohio State's just-too-close-for-comfort grind over Winthrop and Wake Forest's win over Furman (sorry), Tuesday night's college hoops results went mostly according to plan. Arizona and Kansas cruised at home, Michigan State toughed out a win at Bowling Green, NC State got a good challenge from Stanford but managed to pull away and get a win at home, and so on. As expected, it was a relatively standard night of college basketball. There were no Alex Barlows to be uncovered here.

Virginia Commonwealth's victory over Western Kentucky fit this theme. The Hilltoppers came in 8-3 and miles better than they were last season, but they're still nowhere near VCU's level, and the Rams handled business at home. No big deal.

Except that VCU's win produced a handful of eye-popping statistics. To wit:
  • VCU forced Western Kentucky into 32 turnovers.
  • The Hilltoppers turned the ball over on 45.7 percent of their possessions.
  • VCU attempted 66 shots. WKU attempted 42. Typically, when you are take 24 fewer shots than your opponent, your chances of winning tend to decrease. That's just, like, science, man.
  • Western Kentucky averaged .62 points per possession. Yow.

Those are pretty awesome, but these last three -- which were passed along last night by VCU spokesman Scott Day -- are probably my favorites:
  • Darius Theus played a grand total of 17 minutes and 8 seconds the win. While Theus was on the court, WKU scored a total of four points. Yes, you read that correctly. Four points.
  • Theus played 33 defensive possessions Tuesday night. Twenty-one of those ended in a WKU turnover.
  • A team has posted 20-plus steals against a Division I opponent just eight times in the past two seasons. VCU perpetrated three of those games (against UNC-Wilmington last season and Florida Gulf Coast and Western Kentucky this fall).

So, yeah. Tough night for Western Kentucky. The good news for the Hilltoppers is T.J. Price and Jamal Crook -- the team's two starting guards and leading scorers -- both missed the game. So it's not like Western Kentucky is that bad.

Mostly, VCU is that good. The Rams won't always make their opponents look like a junior-varsity team trying to bring the ball up the floor; really, you have to feel for those WKU backups, facing the lockdown turnover machine that is Darius Theus. But VCU will pretty much always make you cough it up. Tuesday night was just a dramatic reminder.

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