High Hopes and a Hot Start
VCU Men’s Basketball hosted MTSU in a much-anticipated contest of Saturday night hoops inside the Siegel Center.
The Rams arguably had their best start of the season against Middle Tennessee State. As HAVOC caused the Blue Raiders fits, JeQuan Lewis got hot quickly scoring five points in less than a minute. Doug Brooks kept the intensity up defensively forcing MTSU turnovers and amping an electric crowd in the Siegel Center during a 7-0 scoring run.
Middle Tennessee State continued having problems with HAVOC. Double teams and traps aplenty by the Black & Gold had the Blue Raiders on edge. Seven turnovers by MTSU in the first half while VCU only coughed up the ball four times. The Rams poured it on from downtown as Jordan Burgess and De’Riante Jenkins added extra ammunition from three.
The Siegel Center started to get cold for MTSU. HAVOC smothered the Blue Raiders for two minutes as Mo Alie-Cox and Ahmed Hamdy closed the door on MTSU with authoritative blocks. Hamdy continued to impress on offense battling for rebounds and second-chance buckets in his fresh haircut. Alie-Cox added extra headaches for MTSU including an And-1 turned 3 point play to give VCU a commanding 21-10 point lead.
Potts Gets Cooking
Giddy Potts provided an answer for MTSU towards making a comeback. As VCU started to get into foul trouble, Potts lit up the scoreboard from everywhere on the court. 17 first half points by the junior guard put the Blue Raiders back into the game. Meanwhile VCU worked on getting HAVOC rolling once more. The Rams were on the wrong side of the whistle with 12 personal fouls in the first half.
As the first half drew to a conclusion, Samir Doughty gave VCU an adrenaline boost before the buzzer. Trailing by a point with 20 seconds remaining, Doughty stole the lead back for the Black & Gold off an isolation layup just before halftime. The Siegel Center once again was at a fever pitch as their Rams exited the hardwood with a 38-37 lead.
The second half of college basketball had a similar start to the first. Both defenses handled business until JeQuan Lewis got things going for VCU while Giddy Potts added on from his 1st half performance.
Running with the Rams
Team offense by the Rams started a 6-0 scoring run while Middle Tennessee State was stuck in the mud for nearly four minutes without a bucket. Tyrik Dixon and Reggie Upshaw of MTSU stepped up offensively and the teams traded the lead back and forth. Potts led MTSU with 25 points while Upshaw scored 15 and Dixon added 12.
As the clock ticked down, there was a battle at the free throw line. Both teams shot 24 free throws with MTSU shooting 63% (15-24) while VCU shot 58% (14-24).
The Siegel Center became unglued after Jordan Burgess literally blocked from out of nowhere then turned irate as Burgess received his fourth personal foul seconds later. Lewis brought the positivity back into the arena with a huge three pointer from the corner with less than four minutes remaining.
VCU displayed an all team offense towards the finish. JeQuan Lewis led the Rams with 20 points followed by Mo Alie-Cox who added an additional 14. Samir Doughty provided 13 points from off the bench and De’Riante Jenkins scored 9.
The war between the Blue Raiders and the Rams had a dramatic conclusion. From the free throw line to the three point spot, VCU nearly had the game won until JaCorey Williams made a three pointer cutting the deficit to 2 with only 5.2 seconds remaining.
Alie-Cox missed the first free throw after being fouled on the inbound. The senior big man collected himself and sank the second. Down three, Potts hoisted one more from beyond the arc in hopes of a tie, but it banged the outside iron. The Siegel Center erupted into a frenzy and VCU held off Middle Tennessee State snapping the Blue Raiders streak with an 80-77 victory. The Rams outscored the Blue Raiders 40-26 in the paint and the VCU bench outscored the MTSU bench 29-8. VCU improved to 7-3 on the season with the win.
Next up on VCU’s three-game home stand at the Siegel Center is LA.-Monroe. That game will be on Thursday, December 22nd at 7 PM and will air on CBS 6.1.
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