Belmont (5-1) at Virginia Commonwealth (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Siegel Center (7,500) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: CSN-MA. Home Record: Belmont 1-0, VCU 2-1. Away Record: Belmont 3-0, VCU 1-0. Neutral Record: Belmont 1-1, VCU 1-2. Conference Record: Belmont 0-0, VCU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: For the first time ever, the Virginia Commonwealth Rams and Belmont Bruins will face each other on the hardwood, as the two are set for a non-league matchup tonight at the Siegel Center.
Belmont is off to a 5-1 start, which includes a perfect 3-0 record as the road team. The Bruins wrapped up the Great Alaska Shootout with a 70-67 win over Oral Roberts last Saturday in Anchorage. This is the final leg of a four-game, eight-day road trip that began on the west coast against Stanford.
VCU is coming off a 92-56 rout over Stetson on Wednesday night. That victory snapped a two-game slide for the Rams, who are looking to take advantage of some favorable scheduling over the coming weeks. Five of their six games in December will be played at home, with the lone exception a road tilt with former Colonial Athletic Association rival Old Dominion.
Belmont shot a sizzling 57.8 percent from the floor while holding Oral Roberts to 37-percent shooting last Saturday. Although the Bruins were hot from the field, they managed to sink only 13-of-25 free throws for the game. They were also out-rebounded on the offensive glass, 21-3. Still, they walked away with their fifth victory in six tries so far this season. Blake Jenkins led the way with 22 points, followed by Kerron Johnson with 20 and Trevor Noack with 15. That trio combined to shoot 22-of-27 from the floor, while the rest of the team combined for only 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Leading scorer Ian Clark (16.8 ppg) had an off night, finishing with only 6 points on 1-of-7 shooting. On the season, he has knocked down an impressive 25-of-46 3-pointers (.543). Johnson (13.8 ppg), Noack (12.7 ppg) and Jenkins (11.2 ppg) are all averaging double figures through six games.
Leading the way for VCU are Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic. Graham is scoring a team-best 14.8 ppg to go along with 5.0 rpg, and he has knocked down 9-of-17 from the perimeter (.529). Reddic handles most of the dirty work in the paint, averaging 14.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest. Reddic, a 58.5- percent shooter from the floor, has also notched four blocks and nine steals. Coach Shaka Smart's Rams are one of the feistiest defensive squads in the nation, averaging better than 12 steals per game while holding foes to 59.2 points. Earlier this week, they simply overwhelmed Stetson with 32 points off 22 turnovers. Reddic finished with 20 points and six boards in only 21 minutes of floor time, while Jarred Guest notched his first career double-double with 17 points and 10 caroms off the bench.
This is an intriguing matchup between mid-major powers. These teams have each won 57 games over the past two seasons, which is tied for ninth nationally in that span. Belmont cannot expect to win with a similar effort from the foul line and on the offensive glass, while the Rams should expect to get a better effort from tonight's opponent than they got from Stetson.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Commonwealth 79, Belmont 76
12/01 10:33:51 ET