VCU Men’s Basketball had one more tune-up game before Atlantic 10 conference began on Friday night in RVA. The Rams hosted VMI inside the Siegel Center and defended their court for the third consecutive game in victorious fashion.
Silky & Effective Offense
VCU got things rolling on offense thanks to a silky euro-step layup by De’Riante Jenkins. After that opening bucket, Garrett Gilkeson quickly responded with an uncontested 3 Ball for VMI. Khris Lane got his game going with a bucket under the rim followed by Jenkins connecting from downtown. At the under 16 media timeout, VCU held on to a 9-8 advantage.
In less than 60 seconds, VCU exploded with an 8-0 rush of offensive fury. The run began with Mike’l Simms putting respect on his name as a shooter from downtown for the Rams. Tyler Maye created a highlight reel in the following sequence with a block then a breakaway layup. Sean Mobley christened the deal with a three-point shot to send the fans berserk while putting VCU up 17-8.
Heavy Showers From Downtown
The defense was invited to VCU’s party and caused the Keydets fits early. VMI had 7 turnovers before the second media timeout took place; one of those resulted in a steal & slam combo by Jenkins which satisfied the Black & Gold.
Eventually, the Rams had another offensive breakthrough after VMI started making some shots. Simms once again buried the Keydets with a three and his teammate Malik Crowfield served up another 3 ball moments after. The seniors took center stage as Williams drove to the basket and created an aerobic assist for Tillman who finished at the rim.
It’s A Party On Broad Street!
As the first half winded down, there was a tale of two stories showcased on the court. The Keydets spent the last 4:30 with a basket and was unsuccessful on their last 8 field goal attempts. HAVOC was not too kind of VMI with VCU holding the Keydets to 28% (7-of-27) from the field and held to 38% (3-of-8) beyond the arc. Keith Smith led the Keydets in production with 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in the first half.
One more scoring run was served before half-time by the Rams. Tillman went back to work in the painted square for back to back buckets. Jenkins capped off a 9-0 VCU run with his second three-pointer of the half. The Fro had 12 points while Agent Zero finished the half with 10; VCU headed back into the locker room all smiles and with a 39-21 lead over VMI at halftime.
Early Fumble, Same HAVOC
Just 8 seconds into the second half, VMI committed their 11th turnover of the game. The Keydets recovered from the free throw line to stop the bleeding momentarily. VCU would get their offense started as Crowfield hoisted a “pass” towards the basket that was finished by Tillman off the glass. After a successful drive by Williams to the rack, VCU went up 45-28 before the under-16 timeout.
HAVOC continued applying the pressure on VMI. VCU gave the Keydets minimal working room and was able to rack up steals and opposing turnovers. Tillman used his length for a steal in the paint that led to Xavier Jackson hitting a three from the corner in transition.
Keydets Storm Siegel
Keith Smith broke through the mold with a three-pointer. As VMI moved closer once again, Khris Lane along with Tillman halted the Keydets from inside. The Fro flourished on a Friday night to collect his fourth double-double of the season and number 20 for his collegiate career.
VMI was not done fighting with Austin Vereen and Bubba Parham connecting on back to back threes for the Keydets. After Coach Rhoades called a 30-second timeout for the Rams, Lane finished a tough bucket through contact to end VCU’s 4-minute cold spell. Will Miller quickly countered with VMI’s third consecutive three-pointer on the other end.
Parham committed a costly shooting foul on a three-point attempt by Johnny Williams that led to the VCU senior guard hitting all three free throw attempts. Jenkins added 3 more points with his fourth three-ball of the night forcing Dan Earl to call a timeout for the Keydets.
Late Surge Slammed At The Door
With time running down, the Black & Gold ruckus amplified. While VMI did not go quietly into a night with a late run to get within 9 points, Simms slammed any hope after Tillman found him on the break after the steal. VCU solidified their third consecutive win with a 75-65 victory over the Keydets and improve to 8-5 overall.
Justin Tillman led VCU with a double-double performance of 19 points and 13 rebounds. De’Riante Jenkins scored 17 points with 4 three-pointers and collected 6 assists with 4 steals. Jonathan Williams had a team-high 9 assists.
Garrett Gilkenson was the lone Keydet in double-figures with 12 points. Both teams had 17 turnovers apiece with VCU scoring 21 points off VMI’s turnovers. VCU’s biggest lead during the game was 23 points in the 2nd half.
Next up for VCU Men’s Basketball is the beginning of Atlantic 10 play on Saturday, December 30th. The Rams begin conference play with a Battle of the Rams against Fordham inside the Siegel Center at 12:30 PM on NBC Sports Network.