The Rams entered the Stu looking to capitalize on Holiday Havoc and the home court advantage to snap their current 3 game skid. This was the second of a five game home series for VCU and with a 5-5 record they needed to tip the scale back into the win column. Entering the contest at 6-5 Buffalo was coming off a 2 game win streak with back to back 80 point offenses. A tale of two halves can in no way adequately describe the absolute transformation between the first and final 20 minutes of play in the Siegel Center. In a dramatic turn around the Rams would go from a shaky performance to total domination on the court.
The Bulls were first on the board off a lay up from Rodell Wigginton which was countered by the same from JeQuan Lewis. Mo Alie-Cox flushed the first dunk of the contest swinging it in the Rams favor. Another tie from a Blake Hamilton lay up that was short lived as Lewis sank the first shot from beyond the arc. Nick Perkins replied with the first three pointer for Buffalo to tie the game for the fourth time in under 4 minutes. VCU began to pull away and briefly controlled a lead until the ties resumed with a Jarryn Skeete 3 pointer at 12:14 that settled it up at 14-14.
The Rams slowly regained control after a free throw and later a lay up from Justin Tilman, but it was his Thunderous dunk off an assist from Lewis that got fans on their feet and fired up for the largest lead to that point at 19-15 and 8:35 till the half. Both teams were high on turnovers at 13 (UB) and 9 (VCU) and Buffalo had 2 players in foul trouble early with Hamilton and Smart benched at 3 each. The first half looked like it would remain close and VCU was ice cold from three point range at 9% with just 1 of 11 shots a success. The back and forth continued as the teams tied 8 times. Then at 3:00 a spark from a tip in from Ahmed Hamdy lit a 13-2 run that had the Rams in control. The finishing touch was a second shot from beyond the arc from Johnson at 0:29 locking the Ram advantage 40-27 at the buzzer.
Building on the momentum gained at the end of the first half the Rams hit the boards quickly in the second half with an early lay up from Johnson and a jumper from Billbury. Lamonte Bearden cut in with 2 from the line for UB but Billbury wasn’t finished and a shot from outside the arc extended the lead to 18 points for VCU. Buffalo was able to reduce the lead to 13 at 17:15 but that’s as close as they would come. The Rams seemed to find their long range magic during the break and they started sinking three point shots in rapid succession to the delight of Ramnation and dismay of the trailing Bulls. Even when the streak faded VCU had a much improved outcome going from 2-13 in the first half to 7-13 in the second adding 21 points from beyond the arc (also the margin of the win).
Johnson had 8 points in the opening half and was 1-4 from 3 point range, but in the closing half he added an additional 14 points and was 4-5 from long range. He led the offense with 22 points. Also coming in at double digits were Billbury (15) and Hamdy (11). In a game that began with both teams struggling to hold on to the ball and possessions turning over at an alarming rate in the first half (UB with 20 and VCU 12), the Rams were able to make adjustments and begin to take back the game. They slowed their turnovers adding 7 in the last 20 minutes but forcing a total of 31 from Buffalo during the night. The opening half was turbulent until VCU found their groove, but the second was a much needed reassurance that Havoc may still find it’s way this season beginning with a 90-69 victory and moving to 6-5 on the season.
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