The VCU men’s basketball team will play Stephen F. Austin State University in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7:27 p.m. in San Diego, CA.
The Rams, a No. 5 seed, will take on the Lumberjacks, a No. 12 seed, just five days after losing to Saint Joseph’s University in the Atlantic 10 championship game.
Head Coach Shaka Smart’s team will have its hands full with an SFA team that has won 28 consecutive games out of the Southland Conference. VCU junior Treveon Graham said the Rams must give the Lumberjack credit despite their high seed.
“They have won 28 straight games and are a really good team,” Graham said according to San Diego State University Athletics Media Relations. “You have to give them their props for that winning streak. But if we go out and play our game we should be able to play with them.”
VCU (26-8, 12-4 A-10) will look to stop SFA (31-2, 18-0 Southland), which ranks eighth nationally in assists per game (16.6) and 45th in points per game (76.5). Among the Lumberjacks’ most lethal offensive weapons is junior Jacob Parker, who averages 14.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while shooting better than 54 percent from the field and nearly 47 percent from three-point range.
Four different SFA players average double-digit scoring outputs, and nine different players average at least 10 minutes of playing time per game.
The good news for the Rams is that SFA hasn’t played an NCAA tournament qualifying team since it lost to the University of Texas in the third game of the season on Nov. 15.
VCU redshirt freshman Mo Alie-Cox said that VCU will try to use its full-court press to disrupt an inexperienced tournament team in SFA.
“We are going to try and overwhelm them with our press, energy and enthusiasm,” Cox said during open practice this week. “We try to build our offense from our defense. We just have to disrupt everything they do and take them out of their game.”
The Lumberjacks average 11 turnovers per game, while the Rams average 11 steals per contest.
If VCU defeats SFA Friday, it will take on the winner of UCLA and Tulsa on Sunday.
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