VCU lived a little dangerously, but the Rams held on for a 73-64 win. The Black and Gold have now won 19 straight home games.
The Rams led by as many as 13 points, but the Huskies caught fire in the second half and closed to within two before VCU was able to secure some breathing room.
The 2009-10 season was marked by a number of games in which the Rams failed to hold early leads down the stretch, but in 2010-11, VCU appears more prepared to weather runs by the opposition. Other than a well-publicized collapse at UAB, the Rams are 11-1 when leading at the half this season. VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart believes this year’s team has matured to the point where it’s able to bend, but not break.
“I think this year’s team has shown a higher level of resolve,” Smart said. “When the other team goes on a run, you’ve got to grit your teeth, and I think these guys have been able to do that this year.”
Senior Ed Nixon scored 10 points Saturday, including a clutch 3-pointer with 2:45 left that provided the Rams with a 65-59 cushion. He agrees that last season’s experience has been the best teacher.
“I think it’s just us learning from last year. Last year, we had a lot of games where we’d be up early and at halftime it’d be like, 12 and the other team would make a run and we didn’t know how to respond to that and we ended up losing those games,” Nixon said. “But now, we’re more mature and things are going better.”
- Bradford Burgess scored 18 points in the first half and tied a season-high with 26 in the game. It’s his fourth 20-point effort of the season. Burgess also established a new career-high with five steals.
- Regarding steals, Northeastern hadn’t given up more than nine in a game this year. VCU ripped 12 on Saturday.
- Joey Rodriguez had three steals, all in the second half, and moved past Edmund Sherod and into second place on VCU’s career list with 205. Rolando Lamb is the all-time leader in that category with 257.
- Rodriguez also moved past Chris Brower and into third on the Rams’ career 3-pointers list with 176.