VCU’s Strong 2nd Half Pits Them in Atlantic 10 Championship

Shaka Smart

Jeff Burke- USA TODAY Sports

In the past few seasons, no team has had more success than the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, who were thrust into the national spotlight under a cloud of controversy just a few years ago. After many chastised the tournament selection committee for placing the Rams in the field of 68, VCU proved all the doubters wrong while making a magical run to the Final Four in 2011. Since then, VCU has remained a household name among the “big boys” of college basketball and continues to perform at a high level. Under the direction of coach Shaka Smart, the Rams have played in a conference tournament final in four of the last five years in two different conferences.

VCU advanced to yet another conference championship as the Rams defeated the George Washington Colonials 74-55 behind a strong showing in the second half. George Washington was able to withstand VCU’s havoc press for a while, but wilted beneath the pressure in the second half as the Rams’ defense recorded nine steals and forced 15 turnovers in the semifinal win. Treveon Graham led the team in scoring with 22 while Briante Weber had another impressive performance scoring 16 points, dishing out eight assists and grabbing six rebounds. The Rams now look ahead to an Atlantic-10 showdown with the Saint Joseph’s Hawks, a team who already defeated VCU once this year 69-62 in February.

The Rams will be a tough out in the NCAA tournament behind the team’s defense and temp, but will have to hope for someone to pick up the slack as the team’s third leading scorer Melvin Johnson went down with a knee injury in the win against George Washington. The loss of Johnson will definitely hinder the Rams going forward, but it still remains to be seen just how big of an effect this injury has on the team’s tournament capabilities.

VCU will cause trouble in the NCAA tournament because of its pestering defense and ability to cause turnovers, but the Rams’ title chances took a significant hit Saturday with the loss of Johnson.

Greg Douglas is a College Basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.

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