Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Rapid Reaction: VCU 59, USC 46
By Pedro Moura
DAYTON, Ohio -- The inaugural First Four has officially wrapped up. Here's a quick recap of Virginia Commonwealth's 59-46 win over USC at the University of Dayton Arena on Wednesday night:
Turning point: The two teams were tied at 22-22 at halftime after a big 3-pointer from VCU's Rob Brandenburg leading into the break, but the Rams blitzed the Trojans at the start of the second period with a 15-5 run.
In a seven-minute period, VCU hit four 3-pointers -- including two by senior point guard Joey Rodriguez -- and took a 37-27 lead that held up well in the final minutes of a low-scoring affair.
Key player: VCU's Jamie Skeen was the most dominant player on the court. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but his 3-point shooting -- 2-of-4 -- really helped spread out the Rams' offense, and USC's Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson weren't well-equipped to defend him out there.
Skeen also did a fine defensive job on Vucevic when he was asked to guard him, although VCU's 7-foot freshman D.J. Haley did a lot of the dirty work against the Trojans' big men.
USC's Jio Fontan deserves some consideration for an inspired 14-point performance, but fouling out with four minutes to play is not the way to lead your team to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
As Skeen walked off the court Wednesday with his coach, Shaka Smart, at his side, he received a standing ovation from the VCU fans in attendance.
Key stat: The difference between the two teams in total shots is remarkable.
The Rams shot the ball 59 times, USC just 38. With that big of a margin, VCU could afford to shoot a worse percentage (34 percent to the Trojans' 39) and still easily come away with the win.
What to attribute it to? Well, the Trojans were outrebounded (36-29) by a team that doesn't outrebound many of its opponents. USC also committed a ton of turnovers and failed to convert a good percentage of its opportunities from the free-throw line.
What's next: VCU advanced to play Southwest Regional No. 6-seeded Georgetown in Chicago on Friday in what many are calling a solid matchup for the Rams. The Hoyas are welcoming back injured point guard Chris Wright to the lineup, and Wright has been a huge piece of their team so far this season. Smart, Skeen and Co. will fly into Chicago tonight by NCAA charter and meet with the media Thursday afternoon in the Windy City.