A-10 CHAMPIONSHIP VIDEO ROUND-UP

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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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RAMS LOOK TO THE PAST TO MOVE AHEAD

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VCU forced 24 turnovers in a 71-60 win over George Mason Saturday.

VCU forced 24 turnovers in a 71-60 win over George Mason Saturday.

RICHMOND, Va. – When you begin to pick up the pieces, you’ve got to start somewhere. For VCU, which suffered a humbling loss at Davidson on Thursday, that place was two years ago. To move forward, the Rams had to look back momentarily.

On Saturday, it helped produce an imperfect 71-60 win over George Mason in VCU’s regular season finale at the Verizon Wireless Arena. It was a start.

Working with a short turnaround following Thursday night’s 82-55 loss at Davidson, VCU Coach Shaka Smart showed his team clips from an 86-68 win over UMass on Feb. 14, 2012.

Those clips were not selected at random. That game featured a UMass squad in the midst of its best season in years. They were confident and fun. At the time, it was an A-10 must-watch game. VCU tightened its grip that night and forced 24 turnovers in a fan friendly, wide-open, 79-possession gem.

“Coach just reminded us of how VCU plays, the VCU way, and he showed us a clip of two years ago in the A-10 against UMass, the style of play and how the game was going,” said sophomore Mo Alie-Cox, who finished with 11 points. “So that really put a reminder in our heads about how we should play and an attacking mindset, and that’s what we really tried to do here today. “

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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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