Homecoming night strolled into the Siegel Center featuring #25 VCU versus North Texas. A rematch 43 years in the making with the Mean Green winning 89-72 in the Lone Star State back in 1976. Chapter 2 started out chilly while flipping the script before rolling the credits on this Friday night thriller.
Tardy To The Party
VCU went to Marcus Santos-Silva to start the offense from near the basket. UNT slowed down the pace to their advantage with a 5-0 scoring run to open the game. Issac Vann kept the Black & Gold at bay hitting a three-pointer just before the first media timeout.
Both teams brought their stingy defensive schemes to the table. North Texas doubled down on the Rams while HAVOC sped things up forcing turnovers. Offensively the battle at the rim continued being a tug-of-war with no clear advantage for either side.
A Game of Runs
Mean Green mustered an 8-0 run featuring back to back three-pointers from James Reese and DJ Draper. Trailing 19-14, Malik Crowfield responded behind the arc as VCU went to work on a productive solution to their deficit.
De’Riante Jenkins flipped the script scoring 8 points on a 20-0 VCU run. Jenkins became the Black & Gold catalyst hitting from three and urging the home crowd to bring the noise. HAVOC forced 9 turnovers for North Texas and held the visitors scoreless for over 8 1/2 minutes to go ahead 31-21 at halftime. VCU turned North Texas’ 13 first-half turnovers into 16 points.
Stuck In The Mud Offense
North Texas’s offensive issues continued into the second half. Mean Green couldn’t connect from three (0-for-4) and struggled at 30% (3-for-10) from the field on their first 10 attempts. VCU couldn’t strike gold on the opposite end while playing with the lead.
The offense continued sputtering for VCU during a 6-minute scoreless drought. During this North Texas created a 6-0 scoring run including five three throws. James Reese would put the Mean Green within a point from three with 8:45 remaining during North Texas’ second 6-0 run.
VCU ran into more problems outside of a malfunctioning shot-clock in need of a replacement. Issac Vann was taken to out of the game after colliding his face into Zachary Simmons’ shoulder on an illegal screen. Draper would once again take advantage of VCU’s cold shooting to put UNT ahead 48-47 on a wide-open three-pointer.
Corey Douglas grabbed a huge offensive board and second chance bucket creating some distance for VCU. Mike’l Simms knocked down a clutch three-pointer to make it a 4-point game. Draper did not go away sinking his fourth triple of the game to keep the Mean Green within a basket.
Simms raised the stakes to his second consecutive three with 1:11 left to send Siegel into a frenzy up. Three-point trading continued between the teams as Umoja Gibson cashed in for North Texas. Marcus Evans stepped to the free-throw line and missed both attempts to give UNT an opportunity to take the lead down 57-56.
Gibson made a crucial mistake on a bounce pass that was stolen by Marcus Evans with 13 seconds remaining. Jenkins was fouled after receiving the pass from the paint by Evans and made both free throws. North Texas tried to take one last shot but unsuccessful as VCU survives a Homecoming scare 59-56.
Stats & What’s Next
Marcus Evans led the Rams with 14 points and 6 rebounds. De’Riante Jenkins added 12 points, Vann scored 9 points, and Simms scored 8 points in the 2nd Half. Coach Rhoades was satisfied with VCU’s long-range hitting 38.% from versus North Texas. Turnovers are a “work in progress” according to Rhoades as VCU coughed up a season-high 18 turnovers.
VCU returns to action at the Siegel Center on Wednesday, November 13th to welcome former head coach Will Wade and LSU. This contest begins at 6 PM on ESPN2.