RELAX, SLU HAPPENS

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512451ab0cf70.imageTuesday’s 76-62 loss to Saint Louis is what it is. The Rams took one on the chin. You’ll have that, it’s a long season. Saint Louis is playing terrific right now. My cap doth tip to thee. What the Billikens just did to the Rams, they essentially did the same thing to No. 15 Butler (75-58) and NCAA-hopeful Charlotte (75-58) in the last two weeks.

While the result was jarring, sometimes these things are inevitable over the course of a 30-plus game regular season. The last time the Rams took a punch like this, they ended up in the Final Four. The coaching staff will dissect the film and put the players to work the next three days. Xavier awaits on Saturday.

For the sake your sanity and to give an idea about how wild a ride a college basketball season can be, have a look at this. Here are a number of teams from this week’s top 25 and some of their lob-sided losses:

#2 Miami
11/13 at Florida Gulf Coast, L, 63-51
12/23 at #4 Arizona, L, 69-50

#5 Florida
2/5 at Arkansas, L, 80-69

#6 Duke
1/23 at Miami, L, 90-63

#9 Kansas
2/6 at TCU, L, 62-55

#11 Georgetown
1/8 vs. Pitt, L, 73-45

#12 Arizona
2/14 at Colorado, L, 71-58

#14 Kansas State
12/15 vs. #14 Gonzaga, L 68-52
2/11 at #14 Kansas, L, 83-62

#15 Butler
11/13 at Xavier, L, 62-47
11/21 vs. Illinois, L, 78-61
1/31 at Saint Louis, L, 75-58

I watched that Duke-Miami game. It was a no contest. What did Duke do? It went back to work and won six straight before Saturday’s close loss at Maryland. Miami lost to Florida Gulf Coast by 12 this season. Read that twice. The Hurricanes are now the No. 2 team in the country. Florida recently went to unranked Arkansas and got pounded. Georgetown lost a game to Pitt by 28! These are all top 15 teams we’re talking about.

One regular season loss doesn’t change much in the grand scheme of things. How you respond to it can. Shaka Smart and Co. will go back to the lab, and the Rams will get better. Of this I am abundantly confident. I don’t know about you, but I woke up feeling fine this morning. My son may have learned some new words last night, but today, I’m good. You should be too.

On to more important matters. It’s pronounced, “Zay-vier”, not “Ecks-zavier.”

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RAMS LOOSE, SHARP IN TUNE-UP FOR STRETCH RUN

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Juvonte Reddic finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds Saturday.

Juvonte Reddic finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds Saturday.

RICHMOND, Va. – If Saturday night’s 84-57 win over George Washington is any indication, VCU is ready for its stretch run. It was the Rams’ final game before a pressure-packed five-bout gauntlet to close out the regular season, and VCU looked a lot like the team that was blowing opponents off the Siegel Center floor earlier this year.

It was a perfect storm for VCU (21-5, 9-2 A-10), really. It was Havoc meets the Peach Fuzz Boys. The Rams’ relentless defensive pressure, combined with George Washington’s inexperience, gestated into 25 Colonials’ turnovers. VCU was more than happy to trade those miscues in for 27 points, an advantage that proved insurmountable.

George Washington, in the second year of Mike Lonergan’s rebuilding project, started four freshmen Saturday night. Those four rookies combined for 17 turnovers, including eight from Joe McDonald. After that, there were few stats that mattered. The pace and tone of the game were squarely in VCU’s favor, and from there, it was a day at the races.

Junior Juvonte Reddic found open space all evening and made his first seven field goal attempts, five of them highlight-quality dunks. On the Rams’ first offensive possession of the game, Reddic used a back screen to get free and caught a high-arching lob from Darius Theus with his right hand and threw it down for a thunderous slam. It was a play that set the tone for night.

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