San Juan, PR (SportsNetwork.com) - The 10th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams will attempt to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they take on the Long Beach State 49ers in second-round action of the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Friday.
Shaka Smart's Rams may have been tournament tested over the last couple of seasons, but they failed their first tourney test on Thursday, falling hard to Florida State, 85-67. The loss came after three straight wins to open the season and prevented the Rams from achieving their first 4-0 start to a season since the 1993-94 campaign.
Don Monson's 49ers have now lost four straight games since their season- opening win over Hawaii Pacific (71-59). The team opened tournament play on Thursday and was no match for 14th-ranked Michigan in an 85-61 loss.
Long Beach State was able to pull within single digits of Michigan in the second half, but was never able to battle all the way back and instead, dropped a lopsided decision to the Wolverines. A.J. Spencer and Mike Caffey led the team in scoring with 12 points apiece. Branford Jones came off the bench to tally 11 points in the setback.
Caffey is the team's top option at the offensive end, shooting .448 from the floor, while pacing the team in both scoring (15.4 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg). Dan Jennings has been a force inside, recording double-doubles in four of the first five games and averaging 13.0 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, while converting over 61 percent from the floor. There isn't much in terms of scoring depth after those two, with Spencer ranked third on the team with 8.2 ppg.
The Rams struggled at the offensive end against Florida State, shooting just 29.3 percent from the floor in an 18-point setback to the Seminoles. The troubles were compounded by an anemic 5-of-23 effort from behind the arc, in addition to committing 14 turnovers. Treveon Graham led the team with 14 points in defeat. Rob Brandenberg scored 10 for the Rams, who dropped their first game of the season.
VCU had shown the ability to win games at either end of the floor this season, before the offensive struggles that surfaced against the 'Noles. The team is now averaging 78.5 ppg, while allowing just 63.0. Graham leads the team in scoring with 15.8 ppg. He is followed by forward Juvonte Reddic (10.3 ppg) and fellow guard Rob Brandenberg (10.0 ppg). Point guard Briante Weber is just under double-digit scoring (8.3 ppg), but is the team's top distributor, doling out 3.5 apg.