Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Two of the Atlantic 10 Conference's best are
set for a Saturday afternoon showdown, as the Xavier Musketeers welcome the
24th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams to the Cintas Center.
VCU battled Saint Louis on the road on Tuesday night with first place in the
A-10 on the line, but it fell in a 76-62 final for its first loss since
dropping a decision to La Salle on Jan. 26. The Rams are still sitting pretty
this season at 21-6 overall, and at 9-3 in the league they aren't out of the
hunt for the A-10's regular-season championship.
After dropping a road tilt against Dayton on Feb. 16 (70-59), Xavier bounced
back on Wednesday night with a solid 55-42 win at Rhode Island to improve to
15-10 on the season and 8-4 in conference. The Musketeers have been
unbelievable at home the last several years, as they have won 52 of their last
53 conference games at the Cintas Center.
These newly-formed league rivals have met just three times previously, with
VCU winning two of those matchups.
The Rams found themselves down by 17 at the half in their latest bout, and
even though they outscored Saint Louis after the break they could not overcome
a modest shooting effort (.444) and a bad performance at the foul line (8-
of-15). Juvonte Reddic (19 points, 12 rebounds) and Treveon Graham (11 points,
10 rebounds) both logged double-doubles for VCU, although Graham struggled
mightily from the floor (4-of-16). Melvin Johnson added 10 points off the
bench. On the season, the Rams own the A-10's top scoring offense, netting
77.5 ppg on greater than 45 percent field goal efficiency. Graham is the top
option with 15.6 ppg to go along with 6.0 rpg. Reddic has a fantastic field
goal percentage (.578) en route to his 14.6 ppg, and his presence in the paint
is felt at both ends of the court as he adds 8.3 rpg, 1.4 spg and 0.9 bpg.
Troy Daniels (12.0 ppg) drains 3.5 3-pointers per contest at a 40.3 percent
clip, and Rob Bradenberg rounds out the balanced attack with 10.4 ppg.
Xavier's offensive performance earlier in the week was far from impressive, as
it made a mere 40 percent of its field goal attempts, but it was still able to
cruise to the 13-point victory by play outstanding defense, holding Rhode
Island to just 24.1 percent shooting, the lowest for any XU opponent this
season. Semaj Christon was off the mark (4-of-12), but he still finished with
16 points thanks to an 8-of-8 showing at the foul line, and Travis Taylor
tallied 13 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for his eighth double-double
of the season. The Musketeers incorporate a slow style of play, which allows
them to rank 13th in the A-10 in scoring (64.7 ppg) despite boasting the
conference's top-ranked field goal percentage (.462). The pace has helped them
more than it's hurt however, as they own the second-ranked scoring defense
(61.2 ppg). Christon is in the midst of a great freshman season with 15.2 ppg
(.454 FG percentage) and 4.4 apg, while Taylor is a mainstay in the frontcourt
with 11.8 ppg and 8.6 rpg.
The Sports Network