Overview: VCU absolutely pummeled the 12th-seeded Zips Thursday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills, 88-42. Akron took a 6-4 lead in the first half, and then the Rams put Akron to sleep, staging a 17-3 run to grab a 21-9 lead with 13:16 left. VCU never looked back.
The Rams did as they wished on the offensive end all night. Despite Akron’s sizeable front line of Zeke Marshall and Demetrius Treadwell, VCU took the ball hard to the rim early and often. When they weren’t getting into the paint, the Rams were watching Troy Daniels bomb away from three. Daniels scored 23 points in just 21 minutes of play and hit 6-of-11 threes on the night.
Akron, playing without suspended starting point guard Alex Abreu and reserve guard Deja Ibitayo, were unable to defend VCU’s quicker, more athletic guards or protect the basketball.
Overall, the Rams put together a masterful shooting performance, knocking down 54 (35-of-65) of their attempts. VCU also forced 22 turnovers via its trademark Havoc full-court press and outscored Akron 34-7 off turnovers.
Senior Juvonte Reddic scored 21 points in 19 minutes and became the 32nd Ram to score 1,000 career points with a bucket midway through the first half. Rob Brandenberg added 14.
Turning point: Given the lobsided nature of this one, you could probably say tip-off, but with 18:28 remaining, Juvonte Reddic sparked the Rams with back-to-back buckets, including a right-handed slam. Moments later, Reddic, gliding up the floor in transition, threw down a two-handed coast-to-coast jam that made it 12-6. It was pretty much over at that point.
Player of the game: Daniels, who made Bill Raftery swoon with his series of 3-pointers that put the game out of reach.
Key stat: Akron turnovers (22) versus VCU turnovers (7). Hard to beat a team when you’re minus 15 in turnover margin.
Miscellaneous: The victory was the Rams’ largest margin of victory in the NCAA Tournament. The previous high of 18 came in VCU’s back-to-back drubbings of Georgetown and Purdue in the 2011 NCAA second and third rounds.
VCU won a tournament game for the third straight season under Coach Shaka Smart. That has happened once previously in school history (1983-85).
The Rams’ win was also the largest margin of defeat for a MAC school. The previous record was 32.
What’s next: Fourth-seeded Michigan, which will be playing in front of a pro-Wolverines crowd on Saturday. Michigan overcame a slow start to handle South Dakota State 71-56 Thursday behind 21 points apiece from Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. The Wolverines have a stable of talented guards and have recorded the lowest offensive turnover percentage in the country this season. VCU leads the nation in defensive turnovers percentage. The winner heads to the Sweet 16 in Dallas next week.