Men’s basketball looks to gain steam in rematch with Western Kentucky

Under Shaka Smart, VCU is 13-8 when facing a team for the second time in the same season.

Quinn Casteel
Assistant Sports Editor
Commonwealth Times’ Sports Twitter

VCU (2-2) got the best of Western Kentucky (1-4) on Sunday at the Charleston Classic, but the Hilltoppers will have a chance at redemption tonight when they get the Rams again, this time on their home court.

The Rams won the first leg of the two-game set 69-64 on the final day of the tournament after losing their first two games to Seton Hall and LSU. Western Kentucky also entered Sunday’s game winless in Charleston and would be forced to leave without a win to their names.

At 1-4, the Hilltoppers are a vulnerable opponent but like VCU they are a solid mid-major program with a lot of past success. Offensively they are led by freshman guards Derrick Gordon and TJ Price. Gordon is averaging 10.9 ppg which includes a 25 point outburst in a lost to St. Joseph’s. Price dropped 17 in Sunday’s loss to VCU, going 4-6 from three-point range.

VCU is vying to win back-to-back games for the first time this season in what will be its first true road game of the season. So far the Rams have played one home game and three on a neutral floor.

In VCU’s two wins so far this season it won the rebounding battle both times. But in two losses the Rams have been outrebounded by 24 boards, an average of 12 per game. If VCU is to sweep Western Kentucky, Juvonte Reddic and DJ Haley will have to be aggressive on the offensive and defensive boards as they were in the team’s two victories.

Rob Brandenberg had his first breakout game of the season for the Rams on Sunday and will look to build on that performance tonight. Brandenberg hit double-digits for the first time this season leading all players with 18 points on 7-14 shooting. He re-claimed his spot in the starting lineup after losing it to Troy Daniels and played like he didn’t want to lose that role again.

As for Daniels, tonight will be about getting hot and staying hot. He will presumably be coming off the bench after Brandenberg’s impressive performance but will still get plenty of looks. Daniels took 15 shots in the season opener and 11 against Seton Hall but has dropped down to seven shots in each of the past two games. He will need to find his stroke early if he is going to start taking 10 or more shots again.

For VCU, Wednesday night will be all about gaining momentum. Stringing wins together at the beginning of the season is the ultimate confidence booster, particularly for young teams, and to get the season’s first road win would be an added bonus.


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