The 13th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide put conference action at Coleman Coliseum.
Anthony Grant's Tide are off to a 6-0 start. Alabama won three games en route to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off title, including a tough decision over Purdue in the title game. The other three wins this year have come at home. The Crimson Tide extended their current win streak in Tuscaloosa to 23 games, with Wednesday's 82-45 whipping of Alabama A&M.
Shaka Smart is in his third season at VCU and really put his school and himself on the map with last year's NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four. This season has gotten off to a slow start, as the Rams are 3-2 thus far. VCU has played Western Kentucky in its last two games, topping the Hilltoppers both times, once in the Charleston Classic and once in Bowling Green.
Alabama has won all three previous meetings with VCU, but this is the first time the two teams will clash in Tuscaloosa.
The Rams have struggled to get the job done at the offensive end of the floor this season, averaging 62.8 ppg and shooting a rather poor 36.8 percent overall. Bradford Burgess and Troy Daniels top the scoring list for VCU at 11.2 and 10.6 ppg, respectively. Rob Brandenberg (9.6 ppg) and Darius Theus (9.2 ppg) provide some depth. In the road win over WKU, the Rams actually shot the ball extremely well, hitting 50 percent overall and a scorching 64 percent in the second half. Four of the five starters finished in double figures, led by Burgess' 16 points. Briante Weber added 13 points, followed by Theus and Brandenberg at 12 points apiece.
The Rams better carry over their strong shooting, because the Crimson Tide are one of the best defensive teams in the country, limiting foes to a mere 50.7 ppg (seventh in the nation). Teams are shooting just 30.7 percent from the floor on the year, so VCU is fighting an uphill battle in this contest. At the offensive end of the floor, the team relies on a trio of solid scorers. Tony Mitchell leads the Tide in scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.7 rpg), followed by JaMychal Green (14.4 ppg) and Trevor Releford (12.0 ppg). Alabama was able to get everyone involved in the win over Alabama A&M this week. Sophomore Charles Hankerson led the way with 16 points off the bench. Rodney Cooper and Nick Jacobs tallied 15 points each, while Trevor Lacey and Levi Randolph chipped in with 12 and 11 points, respectively.