Richmond, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Hoping to lengthen a seven-game win streak, the 20th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams entertain the Saint Joseph's Hawks in an Atlantic 10 Conference tilt at the Siegel Center.
After starting the season ranked in the Top-25, VCU fell out of the poll after several early losses set the team back. But with seven consecutive wins, including a 71-65 win over Davidson on Wednesday night, the Rams are back on track.
Saint Joseph's hasn't been so lucky of late. The Hawks, who made it to the NCAA Tournament last season, have dropped three consecutive contests, and have fallen below .500 with a 6-7 overall record. The team dropped a tight 71-68 decision to Duquesne on the road Wednesday night.
This will be the seventh meeting between Saint Joseph's and VCU on the basketball court. Each side has won three games so far, with the Hawks taking both head-to-head clashes last season by a combined 11 points.
Down late in the game Wednesday, Saint Joseph's tried to make one last rally to gain the advantage. DeAndre' Bembry buried a 3-pointer with less than a minute to play, but no one scored in the remaining 30 seconds as the Hawks were taken down by three. Bembry led the team with 18 points, while Aaron Brown came off the bench to net 15 points with six rebounds. Isaiah Miles chipped in 11 points with eight boards, and James Demery added 10 points. It wasn't enough to overcome a Duquesne squad that shot an even 50 percent from the floor.
Bembry, fresh off a strong freshman campaign in 2013-14, has taken over as the team's go-to player when it's in need of scoring. The sophomore is averaging a team-leading 16.1 ppg this season, which ranks in the top 10 in the Atlantic 10, and adds a team-best 6.5 rpg mark to his resume. Miles, who is netting 10.6 ppg this season, ranks second on the squad in the scoring department, and is the only other Hawk to average a double-digit scoring total. Saint Joseph's as a unit is scoring a dismal 61.5 ppg - just a 10th of a point better than Saint Louis, which ranks last in the A-10 in the category - and is allowing 64.2 ppg to opponents.
Davidson had been a red-hot shooting team as it entered the game against VCU on Wednesday, but the Rams made sure to put a stop to that. The Wildcats were only able to hit on 37.3 percent from the field, while VCU connected on 42.4 percent to bury the visiting Wildcats. Treveon Graham tallied a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Rams in both categories. Melvin Johnson and Terry Larrier each netted 11 points in the winning effort for VCU.
It's been a strong start to the year for Graham, who leads VCU in scoring at 16.3 ppg this season, also adding in a team-best 6.9 rpg mark as well. Johnson contributed a steady 13.8 ppg, and is the only other player to average a double-digit mark in scoring. But that hasn't stopped the Rams from gathering 75.9 ppg as a unit so far, which ranks second in the Atlantic 10 Conference behind only Davidson. VCU is allowing opponents to score 66.2 ppg this season.