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Almost An Upset, Texas Holds Off VCU 71-67

Almost An Upset, Texas Holds Off VCU 71-67

Tuesday night at the Siegel Center featured a variety of headlines on the hardwood. The return of Shaka Smart, some “friendly” competition between former comrades in Rhoades vs. Smart Part 1, and the actual game that was VCU vs. Texas.

Holy Bamba!

Mohamed Bamba got Texas going seconds after winning the tip-off against Justin Tillman with a mid-range jumper. This was followed by a 10-0 scoring run by Texas that included Dylan Osetkowski draining a wide open three ball. Andrew Jones put up another three during the 2:50-time span as Texas went up 12-2 at the first media timeout.

VCU’s early offensive struggle continued for over 4 minutes. Tillman ended the Rams’ cold run from downtown to try and kickstart VCU. After Osetkowski drove inside for Texas, Bamba had another highlight in the form of a ridiculous drive pass Khris Lane and a single-armed Space Jam like dunk that even had Ram fans shook in awe.

Digging From Inside

Marcus Santos-Silva kept VCU’s hopes alive from inside the paint. The freshman forward took it towards Bamba at the rim and was successful on the layup. Jonathan Williams added a free throw from the line while VCU continued to dig themselves out of the deficit.

That deficit was dug deeper by the Longhorns thanks to the three-point shots of Dylan Osetkowski and Andrew Jones. Both Longhorns kept burying VCU with every basket as the duo alone went 5-of-8 from the spot. Mike’l Simms was able to respond with a three of his own while Bamba denied the Rams with blocks on defense for Texas.

Tillman Leveling Up

The Fro got his game going offensively once again with back to back offensive boards turned into seconds chance buckets. Trailing by 9, Williams got VCU closer to Texas with a fancy crossover that was finished by mid-range jay. Siegel Center evolved into full Animal noise-wise and got louder upon Bamba turning over the ball just before the U4 media timeout.

The offense went cold for Texas as Bamba took a break on the bench. Tillman led VCU to the hole along with Marcus Santos-Silva giving Ram fans hope. Once Bamba returned to the floor, HAVOC was able to keep him grounded temporarily on the scoreboard. Bamba had a free throw opportunity but came up short twice with 27.6 left in the half.

Kerwin Roach II kept the Longhorns ahead with a last-second layup seconds before expiration. Texas shot 52% from the field in the 1st half and scored 10 points off of VCU’s 6 turnovers. Tillman’s 15 point performance kept the Rams within striking distance while only trailing 32-40. VCU went 34% from the field and was 2-of-10 on three-point attempts in the first half.

Breakthroughs Are Big From Texas

Both teams traded turnovers and steals as the 2nd half got started. Bamba once again made way to the rim and slammed it home followed by a layup by Roach to make a double-digit lead for Texas. Tillman started the next period good on offense by nailing his first attempt at close range.

Jones kept his hot hand from three as he connected on his first three-point attempt of the 2nd half. The Longhorns went 4-of-5 on their first offensive attempts of the half forcing Coach Rhoades to burn a 30-second timeout for VCU.

Trailing 36-49, things got worse for HAVOC. The Longhorns mustered up a 9-0 scoring run that featured Osetkowski posting up Santos-Silva for the bank off the glass. Followed by a missed jumper by Simms, Matt Coleman broke away from the field for an uncontested layup with Texas maximizing their lead to 19 points.

Rams Made Their Run

Jones and Osetkowski continued leading the Longhorns’ offense and was in no hurry of slowing down. As both players increased their scoring tally, VCU’s offense went ice cold for a few minutes while HAVOC kept getting knocked down by Texas. The Rams went 4-of-10 on offense on their first 10 attempts of the half.

Khris Lane came up big for the Rams with back to back three-pointers to make it a 9 point contest. Osetkowski was called for his 4th personal foul after charging into Sean Mobley in the paint that sent Siegel into a frenzy. Jenkins took advantage of a foul on a three-point attempt and went 2-of-3 from the charity stripe to make the score 50-57 Texas with 9:13 on the clock.

Longhorns Fading, VCU Surges

Mamba turned the crowd against him as the 6’11” forward put in a dunk attempt that people were looking for to be called for offensive basket interference by the officials. HAVOC was back in working order after holding Texas to force a ten-second violation to regain possession.

VCU would finally get the offensive run they’ve been working on to happen. Tillman got it started off the Sean Mobley miss from three that turned into an And-1 basket for the Fro. #4 answered the call once again on VCU’s next possession as VCU inched closer and closer to drawing level.

To Take The Lead! Temporarily…

Lane’s three-point streak would continue with his third of the half followed by Santos-Silva making it a two-point game from under the basket via a pump-fake. Roach would make his way to the free throw line for Texas and Coach Rhoades urged everybody in the Stu to get loud. The fans did just that as Roach missed both free throw attempts.

Siegel Center’s roof nearly imploded as Lane hit his fourth three-pointer to put VCU into a 64-62 lead. Ram fans came up big once again as a noise distraction for Andrew Jones as went 0-for-2 at the line. Bamba remained calm during hostility and made both FTs to put Texas back ahead 64-63. As the game trickled into the final minute, Osetkowski took the air out the Siegel Center with a three that put the Longhorns up 4.

As VCU resorted to fouling and sending Texas to the line, Jenkins brought VCU within 2 points from downtown with 18 seconds remaining. The Rams fought valiantly, however, Texas held off VCU’s 2nd half comeback to win the contest 71-67.

Final Stat-Line

Justin Tillman led all scorers on the night with a double-double performance of 22 points and 10 rebounds. Khris Lane finished with 15 points and went 4-of-5 from three while De’Riante Jenkins picked up 12 points. VCU outrebounded Texas 38-33 and scored 30 points inside the painted box.

Texas was led by Andrew Jones with 19 points on 60% shooting from the field. The Longhorns had 4 players finish the contest in double-figures. Mohamed Bamba had a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds along with 4 blocks.

VCU fell to 5-4 overall and prepare for a trip to New Jersey to take on Seton Hall in the Never Forget Tribute Classic. Tip-off is set for a 3 PM start and will be broadcast on FOX.

Mark graduated from VCU in 2014 with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology. He started as a fan of the Black & Gold in the stands his freshman year. Mark was known as “Kazie” for his charismatic fandom with the VCU’s student organization the Rowdy Rams. While at VCU he gained experience in sports media with WVCW on a sports radio show called Rowdy Radio. Following graduation, Mark continued crafting his social media skills with the Richmond Kickers while also handling VCU coverage. He is a true fan of the Rams and vocally passionate on and off camera. After the final whistle, you can probably find him at local RVA bar or brewery enjoying a drink and conversation.

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