Assistant Sports Editor
When freshman guard Rob Brandenberg scored a career-high 23 points in the VCU men’s basketball team’s 71-54 rout of Georgia State Wednesday night, he took time to focus on a much larger canvass than his own achievements.
“It feels good,” Brandenberg said. “It feels better that we got the ‘W,’ it was a payback game and now we’re tied for first in the CAA and that’s the sweetest feeling but my teammates got me started early on in the first half and I was just making shots. It feels good but it feels beter to get the win.”
After posting 22 points in VCU’s win at William & Mary just two games prior, Brandenberg renewed his career-high to gain revenge on a Panther team that handed the Rams a disappointing 76-66 loss in Atlanta on Jan. 3.
“It seemed like we clicked more when we were at home and plus it was a payback game, they beat us really good,” senior forward Jamie Skeen said. “They were beating us the whole time at Georgia State, we had a lot to prove.”
In a first half that consisted of high energy on both ends of the floor, Brandenberg was capable of igniting an 18-5 run for VCU that was capped off by a Troy Daniels 3-pointer with 4:54 left in the half to put the Rams ahead 28-14.
Joey Rodriguez would find success in the lane for layups on consecutive drives to give VCU a 35-18 lead and summarize a dominant first half for the Rams.
Eric Buckner attempted to dominate the post but Jamie Skeen would provide a commanding force down low for VCU allowing just eight points in the paint for the Panthers in the first half.
Georgia State came out of the half with a newborn spark of energy highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from guard Dante Curry that helped produce an 12-3 run for the Panthers that cut the Rams’ lead to eight.
VCU would counterattack however, with 3-pointers from Rodriguez, Brandenberg and Daniels to complete a 20-6 run and take a 60-36 lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the game.
The Rams’ offensive pressure throughout the remainder of the second half would be too much for the Panthers as VCU coasted to its 20th straight victory at the Siegel Center, which ranks sixth in the nation amongst active home winning streaks.
“Our guys were really excited to get that game started I think for the last three days,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “I though we did a nice job of playing with a lot of energy early … and I though that carried us through for the whole game.”
After allowing 38 points in the paint at Georgia State, Skeen provided a dominant inside force that allowed just 18 points in the post, six in which came from Buckner who posted a career-high 28 points on the Rams in their first meeting.
“Buckner (at Georgia State) was a force down there in the paint and he got so many dunks,” Skeen said. “We were just trying to make him finish over us and see can he score anything besides dunks and free-throws. But today I don’t think he got a field goal, he just hit free-throws so the goal was accomplished.”