The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Siegel Center (7,617) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: CBS Sports Network. Home Record: UMass 8-2, VCU 11-2. Away Record: UMass 6-2, VCU 7-1 Neutral Record: UMass 2-2, VCU 1-2. Conference Record: UMass 6-3, VCU 7-2. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Massachusetts Minutemen visit the Siegel Center for a crucial Atlantic 10 Conference matchup against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Virginia Commonwealth is tied with Saint Louis atop the A-10 standings with a 7-2 conference record, and UMass is just one game back with a 6-3 mark in league action.
Derek Kellogg's Minutemen notched their second win in a row in convincing fashion on Saturday by downing the Saint Joseph's Hawks, 80-62, at home. The victory was the fourth in five outings for UMass, which now sits at 16-6 overall. The Minutemen are led by junior point guard Chaz Williams, who is producing 16.1 points and 7.1 assists per game to pace the squad.
In the victory over Saint Joseph's, Terrell Vinson, Sampson Carter, Williams and Freddie Riley all scored in double figures for UMass. Williams was one assist shy of his fourth double-double of the season, finishing with 11 points, 9 assists, four rebounds and one block. Vinson is the second-leading scorer among active players with 12.2 ppg. UMass shot 51.8 percent from the floor while limiting the Hawks to 39.2 percent shooting in the contest. The strong offensive showing has become customary, as the Minutemen are second in the A-10 in scoring with 72.6 ppg. They are not quite as tough defensively, as they are giving up 69.7 ppg to rank 13th in the conference.
UMass will be visiting the one team with a better scoring offense, as Shaka Smart's Rams are netting 77.5 ppg to only 62.9 allowed points per tilt. The dominance on both ends of the floor has helped VCU arrive at a 19-5 overall record. The team is coming off of a 68-61 victory over Charlotte that was powered by a 21-point performance by Rob Brandenberg. The 6-foot-2 junior guard posts 10.2 ppg as the team's fourth leading scorer behind Treveon Graham (15.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Juvonte Reddic (14.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and the sharp-shooting Troy Daniels (12.3 ppg).
VCU is a very active defensive team that likes to press and trap often which has led to an A-10 best 12.0 steals per game. It also leads the league in assists (15.5) and is second in makes (194) from distance. In the win over the 49ers, Graham scored 12 points to mark the 22nd time he has reached double- figures this season while Daniels extended his streak of games with a made 3- pointer to 34. Seven different Rams recorded a steal on the night as VCU increased its nationally-leading total to 287 on the season.
With both teams playing so well, it is hard to see either folding in such a key matchup. Although Williams is making a case for himself as one of the NCAA's premier point guards, his Minutemen will have trouble escaping the hostile Siegel Center with a win. Both teams know how to get it done offensively. Although VCU is a decent team on the other end as well, this one could turn into a high-scoring affair as Williams renders the Rams' pressure ineffective.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Commonwealth 82, Massachusetts 78
02/14 10:41:27 ET