DEEP, VERSATILE RAMS SEND MESSAGE IN LOP-SIDED WIN OVER GEORGE WASHINGTON

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Sophomore Mo Alie-Cox provided 10 points and 8 rebounds, and played stout defense, in VCU's 72-48 win Tuesday night.

Sophomore Mo Alie-Cox provided 10 points and 8 rebounds, and played stout defense, in VCU’s 72-48 win Tuesday night.

RICHMOND, Va. – There was a moment at the end of the first half Tuesday night where Mike Lonergan appeared close to earning a technical foul. Referee Tim Kelly clearly gave the George Washington coach a second look before Lonergan, protesting contact on VCU’s final possession of the half, cooled down and retreated to his lockerroom.

On second thought, he probably wishes he had stuck to his guns and picked up a couple of technicals.

Instead, he returned to the floor for the second half and watched powerlessly as VCU pulverized his Colonials squad 72-48. VCU actually led by as many as 29, and George Washington shot an abysmal 19 percent (5-of-26) from the field in the period as the Rams rumbled to their 12th straight win.

On paper, it was a contest between the Atlantic 10 Conference’s preseason No. 1 (VCU) and No. 2 (GW) teams. On the hardwood, it was no contest at all.

The Rams haven’t lost since Dec. 6, but still found a way to open people’s eyes Tuesday night. It was a performance impressive in both because of who the Rams beat and how they did it. It was the type of game that spoke to how good this VCU team can be. VCU, which has played one of the toughest schedules in the country, didn’t need to justify its top-15 ranking, but the Rams sure looked every bit like a top-15 team anyway.

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VIDEO: VCU DISMANTLES GEORGE WASHINGTON 72-48

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HIGHLIGHTS

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SHAKA SMART

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VCU PLAYERS

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GEORGE WASHINGTON COACH MIKE LONERGAN

MO ALIE-COX IS A DUNKING EARTH-MOVER

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Here’s Mo Alie-Cox, future Pro Bowl tight end, stealing the ball, then dunking said ball to Australia, then nearly destroying the basket and Siegel Center floor. This is kind of tonight’s game in a nutshell. Rams win 72-48.

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

 

MONDAY WAKEUP; RAMS WIN & MO DUNKS

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It was an undefeated hoops weekend at VCU. We’ve pretty well covered the 93-87 men’s basketball instant classic from Saturday. Sunday, women’s basketball knocked off UNC Greensboro – coached by former VCU assistant and staff hoops legend Wendy Palmer – 80-73. Sophomore Keira Robinson led four Rams in double figures with 19 points, and classmate Camille Calhoun booked a double-double in the win. To the highlights!

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Another treat for you this morning. Here’s 48 seconds of Mo Alie-Cox dunking on people, because nobody should have to go through a Monday without a Mo Alie-Cox dunk or blocked shot.

RAMS LOOK FOR BALANCE AS #23 UNI VISITS

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Senior Treveon Graham is averaging a team-leading 17.4 points per game.

Senior Treveon Graham is averaging a team-leading 17.4 points per game.

RICHMOND, Va. –VCU is going to need all the help it can get to beat No. 23 Northern Iowa Saturday night. The Panthers (9-0) roll into Richmond unbeaten and likely riding a wave of confidence. The Panthers also own a 77-68 win over VCU last season in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

“I think that Northern Iowa is playing better than they were last year…in fact, I know they are,” said VCU Coach Shaka Smart. “We’re certainly going to need to play better than we did last year.”

To beat the Panthers, VCU will likely need to utilize most, if not all of the offensive resources at its disposal. The Rams’ offense has been nearly as prolific as last year, but less balanced. Saturday, and moving forward, VCU Coach Shaka Smart knows the Rams will be better off if they can find scoring punch outside of senior Treveon Graham and junior Melvin Johnson, who are averaging a combined 34.5 points per game. That duo has accounted for 46 percent of VCU’s points this season. That’s due in part to Johnson and Graham’s outstanding play, but also because the Rams haven’t yet seen a reliable third option emerge.

Last year, five Rams averaged 9.4 points per game or better. Right now, only Graham and Johnson meet that threshold. There’s a steep drop-off between Johnson, VCU’s second-leading scorer (16.9 ppg) and Jordan Burgess, the Rams’ third-best scoring option (8.5 ppg) at this point.

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MO SAYS NO, VCU FANS SAY YES

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Fan-favorite Mo Alie-Cox is averaging 5.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game this season.

Fan-favorite Mo Alie-Cox is averaging 5.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game this season.

RICHMOND, Va. – Sally Farrar has gotten used to the occasional honks from other motorists when she’s driving around Richmond. It’s not that she’s a bad driver, and a 1999 Mazda Miata is a perfectly acceptable vehicle.

It’s just that Farrar is getting extra attention since she received her customized license plate that reads “Mo SezNo” from the DMV in April.

Farrar, like many VCU fans, has latched onto likable Rams’ forward Mo Alie-Cox and the associated Twitter hashtag: #MoSaysNo. Born out of our innate affinity for rhyme and, more importantly, Alie-Cox’s penchant for blocking shots, the phrase has fed into VCU fans vigorous embrace of the sophomore from Northern Virginia.

From the minute he stepped his oversized Nikes onto the court, Alie-Cox has been a fan favorite. An improbable genetic combination, Alie-Cox is built like a video-game version of a tight end, with California redwoods for calves and a condor’s 7-foot-2 wingspan that shouldn’t be possible for a man standing 6-6.

Each blocked shot by Alie-Cox touches off an impassioned, united chant of “Mo Says No”. Online, #MoSaysNo references spill onto Twitter like a cascade of new-wave fan art.

“It feels real good,” says a smiling Alie-Cox. “It’s good. I don’t know who made that up. It’s appreciated knowing that the fans love you and they go out of their way to show an appreciation for you.”

Of course, that original hashtag has produced a number of mutations over the past 12 months, including, but absolutely not limited to, posters labeled #MoAlieBlox and memes such as #MoSaysSnow to mark a winter’s storm.

Alie-Cox imposes opponents and endears himself to VCU fans at the same time with his size, energy and paint-protecting ability. He does it all with long dreadlocks flopping around, a booming baritone laugh and a Cheshire Cat smile. But perhaps it’s just easy to like Mo Alie-Cox because he’s an easy guy to like?

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PRESS CONFERENCE JAMBAROO

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On Thursday, we settled into the media room for a parade of press conferences as the VCU Men’s Basketball team prepped for Virginia and the VCU Women’s Basketball squad readied for Old Dominion.

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LARRIER BUILDS CONFIDENCE IN BLOWOUT

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Terry Larrier scored 21 points in Thursday's win. He is the first VCU freshman to score 20-plus since 2011.

Terry Larrier scored 21 points in Thursday’s win. He is the first VCU freshman to score 20-plus since 2011.

RICHMOND, Va. – By the time Terry Larrier scored his first points Thursday, VCU had pretty much already smothered any hope Maryland Eastern Shore had of an upset bid.

But Larrier, and VCU’s other freshmen, kept flying around the court, making plays, and provided himself with a boost of confidence in an otherwise lob-sided affair. The Rams won in a 106-66 landslide, cracking the 100-point barrier for the first time since Jan. 2, 2013, but it wasn’t even really that close. All 14 Rams played, and no VCU starter was on the floor for more than 15 minutes. Most of the night, UMES faced a mish-mash of Frankenstein lineups.

However, Thursday was about more than padding stats. Larrier scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and became the first VCU freshman to score more than 20 points in a game since Rob Brandenberg dropped 23 against Georgia State on Jan. 19, 2011.

Larrier’s sharpshooting was a welcome sight. VCU’s highest-rated recruit since Kendrick Warren, Larrier was 3-of-14 from the field in VCU’s first two games, including 1-of-9 from three. If you (unfairly, perhaps) lump in VCU’s exhibition game with Cal (Pa.), the Bronx native was 2-of-13 from long distance as a Ram.

But Thursday, Larrier’s stroke appeared more fluid as the game wore down and shots continued to fall. Maryland Eastern Shore is in the midst of a total rebuild and won just six games last year, but despite an obviously overmatched opponent, Larrier was happy to find his stroke.

“It definitely felt good, just getting it going, getting my confidence up. It felt real good,” Larrier said afterwards.

Larrier, a 6-foot-8, 185-pound wing, has been searching for a comfort level as he negotiates the faster, more physical style of play, as well as attempts to nestle into a role on a team replete with scorers. He certainly appeared to take a step in the right direction against the Hawks.

“Coming to college, it’s a totally different game,” Larrier said. “Guys are much bigger, faster, so I’ve still got to get accustomed to it. My confidence right now, my confidence is at a good level, but it needs to keep going up.”

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MBB PHOTO DAY: AN IPHONE PREVIEW

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Disclaimer: These photos were taken on a late-model iPhone by an untrained photographer (me) in occasionally sub-standard lighting. We had actual real photographers on site to capture actual professional photos. You’ll see those (probably) Wednesday. This is just a behind-the-scenes preview.

 

Shooting the men's intro video #LetsGoVCU

A video posted by @vcuathletics on

Mo Alie-Cox picks his one-on-one match-up. #LetsGoVCU

A video posted by @vcuathletics on

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