RAMS TURN ON A DIME, TOPPLE TOP-SEEDED DAVIDSON

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Mo Alie-Cox (left) provided 18 points and eight rebounds as VCU knocked off regular season champion Davidson 93-73 in the A-10 semifinals.

Mo Alie-Cox (left) provided 18 points and eight rebounds as VCU knocked off regular season champion Davidson 93-73 in the A-10 semifinals.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Momentum is a funny, nebulous concept, but if there was ever proof of how quickly it can shift, it was VCU’s impressive – and for many, unexpected – 93-73 upset of regular season champ Davidson Saturday in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals at Barclays Center.

Left for dead a little over a week ago by some prognosticators, VCU is back to wreaking havoc on brackets. The Rams are storming into the A-10 title game for the third straight year Sunday, where they’ll take on Dayton. The Flyers topped Rhode Island in Saturday’s semifinal nightcap. It will be VCU’s fifth straight appearance in a conference championship game.

Just days ago, VCU’s victory would have been considered as unlikely as a Knicks winning streak. At times, the Rams made it look easy against Davidson, hitting 12 three-pointers on the way to victory.

The Rams didn’t just beat a red-hot Davidson team Saturday, avenging an 82-55 blowout loss on March 5, VCU dominated the Wildcats for long stretches, and displayed championship form. It was Davidson’s first loss in 11 games, and VCU’s best performance since losing point guard Briante Weber to injury on Jan. 31. VCU’s 93 points were the most by a Davidson opponent in three months.

“We played with a lot of enthusiasm today. We wanted to go out there and attack from the get-go. We had our ups and downs and responded pretty well today, and we’re going to have to do that for the rest of the season,” said senior Treveon Graham, who finished with 18 points.

It had been nine days since VCU and Davidson last met, but it might as well have been nine years.

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VIDEO: VCU UPENDS DAVIDSON 93-73

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THORPE ICES DAVIDSON

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Check out VCU sophomore Isis Thorpe’s buzzer-beater at Davidson from Wednesday night. With the game tied at 63-all, VCU inbounded from underneath its own basket with 2.5 seconds left. Inbounder Chadarryl Clay spies Thorpe over the top and the Pennsylvania native catches and fires the winner. VCU improved to 16-12 with the win, while Thorpe continues to enjoy a terrific sophomore season. She led VCU with 16 points last night.

RAMS SHOWCASE MATURING DEFENSE IN WIN OVER DAVIDSON

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VCU opponents are shooting just .370 in the last six games. The Rams limited Davidson to a season-low 65 points Wednesday.

VCU opponents are shooting just .370 in the last six games. The Rams limited Davidson to a season-low 65 points Wednesday.

RICHMOND, Va. – It’s been happening somewhat quietly for the last couple of weeks, but on Wednesday, you could no longer deny VCU’s defensive maturation.

Faced with a Davidson offense that ranked sixth nationally in adjusted efficiency, VCU (12-3, 2-0 A-10) flexed its defensive muscle to earn a hard-fought, 71-65 win over Davidson at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

Despite its place on the schedule – the second game on each team’s Atlantic 10 slate – it was a contest that ached of postseason intensity and hinted at a possible juicy battle deep in the league’s tournament field in March.

On paper, the game looked like it would be a track meet between a pair of tempo-friendly systems. Davidson (10-3, 1-1 A-10) entered the game averaging nearly 86 points per game, while VCU is known for its free-wheeling open-court play. Instead, short, frenetic bursts of frenetic offense often gave way to half court, meat-grinder basketball.

VCU’s vaunted Havoc defense, a bit of a puzzle in the early parts of the Rams’ non-conference schedule, put the brakes on Davidson’s high-octane attack. VCU held the Wildcats to a season-low 65 points and 37 percent (22-of-59) shooting. The Wildcats began the second half 2-of-16 from the field as the Rams opened a 13-point lead. Davidson shot just 39 percent from inside the 3-point arc and turned the ball over 15 times, its second-highest total of the season.

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VIDEO: RAMS HALT DAVIDSON 71-65

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HIGHLIGHTS

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B.A. WALKER HALF COURT THREE
Former Ram B.A. Walker buries a half court 3-pointer prior to the game to win everybody in attendance free Papa John’s.

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SHAKA SMART

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BOB MCKILLOP

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VCU PLAYERS

VCU MEDIA MINUTES (JAN. 5)

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With Davidson on deck and VCU riding six-game winning streak, Shaka Smart and players sat down with the local scribes and beautiful people of your television networks to chat. Also, VCU Women’s Coach Beth O’Boyle dropped by to update us on the 9-5 Rams.

SHAKA SMART

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BRIANTE WEBER, TREVEON GRAHAM, MO ALIE-COX

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BETH O’BOYLE

 

AND THEN THERE WERE 14 (AGAIN)

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Davidson_Combo_LogoRICHMOND, Va. – The tectonic shifting of Division I realignment has rumbled again, and this time it shook out favorably for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The league trumpeted the addition of Davidson Wednesday for the 2014-15 season, just weeks after George Mason announced it would leave the CAA and would also join the A-10.

“Davidson is an ideal fit for the Atlantic 10 – as a nationally recognized academic Institution complimented by excellence in a broad-based athletic program — the Wildcats will be competitive immediately. Their success in men’s basketball is important, bringing another nationally recognized brand into the league,” A-10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said Wednesday in a prepared release.

George Mason will become an A-10 member this summer, restoring a strong in-state rivalry with VCU. It also means the league will operate with 13 full members in 2013-14 and then – presumably – 14 in 2014-15.

In the short and long term, this is a boon for the Newport News, Va.-based Atlantic 10. The A-10 will lose four members this summer, Temple (All-American), Charlotte (Conference USA), Butler (Big East) and Xavier (Big East), but McGlade wasted little time shoring up the league.

From a men’s basketball perspective, which, realistically, is the driver in all this, the additions of George Mason and Davidson should be well-received. Given the landscape of college athletics these days, you could make a strong argument that these were the two most attractive and realistic targets for the A-10. Actually, that’s exactly the argument I’m making. The league adds two strong basketball programs with strong history in attractive TV markets; two schools which have each established themselves on the national scene at different points in the last eight years.

It would be impossible to completely replace programs like Xavier, Temple and Butler in a single year, but these are good moves nonetheless. If you count Davidson, seven of the A-10’s 14 schools finished in the top 100 in RPI last year.

Here’s a comparison of what the A-10 will gain the next two years to the schools that will depart (click to enlarge):

A-10-realignRPIa10-realign-measurables

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