CHICAGO – Who’d have thought Brandon Rozzell’s broken shooting hand, which cost him a chunk of his senior season, could be viewed as a good thing. Rozzell certainly didn’t feel that way at the time of the injury, but after scorching Georgetown with six 3-pointers and 26 points in a convincing, 74-56 NCAA Second Round victory Friday night, he might start at look at it differently.
“It’s funny, because the first person I talked to after the game is my father, and he mentioned the hand injury,” Rozzell, who missed eight games with the hand injury, said. “All he could talk about is how the injury helped me sit out and get my legs back into my shot. So, I guess he looked at it a different way.”
Rozzell certainly had his legs under him Friday when he bombed 6-of-10 from long distance to lead a 12-of-25 VCU shooting performance from beyond the arc.
It was a moment that also clarified how important Rozzell is to this team. When he’s on, the Rams are a dangerous foe. VCU is 4-1 this season when Rozzell scores at least 20 points.
Friday, Rozzell hit the first shot he took, a 3-pointer at the 13:16 mark of the first half, to give the Rams a 14-11 lead. Moments later, he hit back-to-back treys as VCU took a 21-19 lead. The Rams never trailed again and led by as many as 25 points before Georgetown rallied to make the game somewhat respectable.
“I think after the first one went down, I thought it was going to be a good night. That’s a good thing for any player, any shooter playing the game. After the first one went down, I just kept on trying to find open shots on the court and the second one dropped and I kind of just kept it going from there.”
Rozzell is the poster boy for the Rams free-wheeling, 3-point firing offense. VCU has made a Colonial Athletic Association record 299 3-pointers this year, 69 from Rozzell alone. Rozzell ranks third in school history with 184 3-point field goals and is 8-of-13 from 3-point range in two NCAA Tournament games.
He’s a classic 3-point gunner, and sometimes there are arctic cold streaks. Rozzell was 2-of-10 from the field against William & Mary and Georgia State. He was 1-of-9 in a loss to James Madison. But as bad as the slumps can be, the hot streaks are a thing of beauty.
Friday, as he does whenever he’s feeling it from the field, Rozzell started to get vocal.
“[He says] he’s open, a lot,” Joey Rodriguez said with a laugh.
If Rozzell can stay open and stay hot, the Rams could be looking at their first trip to the Sweet 16 in school history.
VCU’s victory improves the Rams to 7-9 in NCAA Championship history. Those seven victories are the most for any CAA school… Friday’s win gives the Rams two NCAA Tournament wins for the first time in a season in school history… Bradford Burgess blocked a career-high four shots Friday… VCU is now 2-0 all-time against Georgetown. VCU won the only other meeting 88-75 on March 1, 1978… Rodriguez needs four assists to move into third place on VCU’s all-time list. He had seven in Friday’s win.