Head Coach Will Wade made his anticipated return stepping into the Siegel Center alongside #23 LSU Wednesday night. Three years after his departure, Wade delivered on his “contract clause” sending the Tigers into hostile territory amongst Ram Nation. The game exceeded the hype with two teams leaving everything on the floor in front of a rambunctious crowd on Broad Street.
Run, Run, RUN!
Trendon Watford set the tone off the jump creating a 6-0 LSU scoring run. Watford continuously drove the ball into the lane and delivered bucket after bucket. On the other end, VCU struggled offensively shooting 22% (2-of-9) from the field before the first media timeout trailing 11-5.
Co-scoring leader Javonte Smart picked up 2 quick personal fouls and returned to LSU’s bench with 13 minutes left in the first half. VCU’s second unit brought the Black & Gold back into the game with two consecutive And-1 layups by KeShawn Curry and Vince Williams. Malik Crowfield tied things up from three during an 8-2 scoring streak for the Rams.
Here Come The Rams!
Marcus Santos-Silva took over to push VCU back out in front. Santos-Silva hit back-to-back buckets from inside and kept that same energy on defense to force another LSU turnover. The Tigers felt HAVOC’s presence after burning two consecutive timeouts in less than 30 seconds to withhold near turnovers to Coach Wade’s dismay.
The VCU defense continued setting a high standard. HAVOC kept the pressure up while forcing LSU turnovers into the double figures. An offensive turnaround for VCU pushed the rams further ahead of #23 LSU. A 7-0 run highlighted by a coast to coast dunk by Williams and a three from Bones skyrocketed VCU to a 37-29 lead.
There was one more run left in VCU’s tank before halftime. Vann ignited the Rams from three followed by Evans and Williams knocking the ball down on a 9-0 sweep. Santos-Silva capped off the half from inside to put VCU at 52% shooting from the field. HAVOC collected 12 turnovers from the Tigers and turned them into 24 points. A 50-38 lead for the Black & Gold heading back to the locker room.
Both teams cooled down in the opening minutes of the 2nd half. LSU went scoreless in the first 3 minutes while VCU shot 0-of-7. Santos-Silva gave VCU a jump from close range followed by an energetic Jenkins three-point jumper to get home base rocking once more.
Excitement quickly turned to concern as LSU went on an 11-0 scoring run cutting the deficit to 3 points. Javonte Smart and company repeatedly hammered the ball inside with Smart hitting a momentum-shifting three-pointer.
Follow The Big Man’s Lead
Santos-Silva once again fueled VCU with a big swipe of the ball on defense. That steal led to an uncontested jumper by Evans to get the Rams back in business. HAVOC resumed their turnover feast versus LSU cashing in points from the Tigers’ miscues.
Foul trouble and a two-minute trend of scoreless basketball put LSU in a predicament. Darius Days and Emmitt Williams were playing with 4 fouls and VCU brought the game to them repeatedly looking for that 5th whistle. Days would exit the game with 2:11 left and LSU trailing 80-73.
One Final Roll
LSU had one last 7-0 run in the chamber to tie the contest 80-80. Smart delivered from the free-throw line and Charles Manning connected on And-1 turned into a 3 point play. Skylar Mays saw an open lane and brought life back to the Tigers as time kept winding down. VCU would lose their senior leader in Marcus Evans after receiving his 5th personal foul.
Mays made a crucial turnover with 56 seconds remaining and Santos-Silva swiped his fourth steal of the game in crunch time. That steal led to 1-for-2 free-throws for Issac Vann putting VCU ahead 81-80. Vann would foul Mays of LSU inside the paint on a shot attempt on the following possession. Mays went perfect to regain an 82-81 LSU lead.
Siegel Center nearly collapsed as Jenkins was fouled on a three-point attempt with 26 seconds left that nearly counted. Instead, Jenkins went 2-of-3 at the free-throw line to give VCU another 1 point advantage. Mays went to the rim one more time for the game-winner but was denied by Marcus Santos-Silva at the rim.
Santos-Silva increased VCU’s lead to 2 off of a made free throw. Turnovers were LSU’s downfall with a season-high 26 turnovers and the final one came at the worse of times. Skylar Mays lost the ball on the run as the clock counted down to zero to solidify the Black & Gold victory. VCU outlasted #23 LSU 84-82 to send the Tigers and Coach Wade back to Baton Rouge with their first loss of the season.
Leading charge was Marcus Santos-Silva with another double-double performance of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Marcus Evans and De’Riante Jenkins scored 15 points against LSU. Issac Vann and Vince Williams put up an additional 11 points. VCU turned LSU’s 26 turnovers into 37 points and scored 14 on the fast break. VCU’s bench outscored LSU’s 23-13.
Next up for VCU Men’s Basketball is the Emerald Coast Classic. VCU hosts Jacksonville State in a campus game on Sunday, November 17th at the Siegel Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 Noon and telecasted on MASN.