Simms lifts VCU men’s basketball over Missouri St., Rams move to 8-2

Senior guard Mike’l Simms hit three 3-pointers against Missouri State. Photo by Alessandro Latour

Ryan Grube, Staff Writer

Like any other shooter, senior guard Mike’L Simms knew once his first shot fell that it was going to be a good night.

Just 40 seconds into Sunday night’s contest, Simms received a pass from senior guard De’Riante Jenkins on the right wing. The Richmond native acknowledged the defender right in his face and took the contested shot anyway.

His attempt hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Simms cashed in on two other shots from deep, finishing with 11 points to lead men’s basketball to its second straight victory. 

VCU never trailed Sunday night on their way to a 61-51 win over Missouri State to conclude the Rams’ two-game homestand.

Simms said confidence was a huge contributor to his productive night, along with his teammates pointing out open looks.

“It was just one of those nights where I felt real confident,” Simms said. “Of course, my teammates get mad at me when I don’t shoot it, so I was like, ‘might as well shoot.’” 

The Rams forced 26 turnovers by the Bears, translating their opponents’ errors into 20 additional points.

Redshirt-senior guard Issac Vann said Missouri State’s turnover struggles were part of the team’s scouting report heading into the contest.

The Bears entered the game having committed more than 14 turnovers in four consecutive games. Sunday night, VCU forced 26 giveaways.

Vann said the black and gold knew they could speed up Missouri State, causing them to buy into the Rams’ playstyle.

“We knew their backup point guard was a little weak handling the ball, and we knew their starting point guard tried to break the press by himself a lot,” Vann said. “It’s just the result of what we practice each and every day.”

On a night where they struggled mightily from inside the arc, the Rams relied heavily on the three ball to secure the victory.

VCU converted on nine of 23 three-pointers and went 10 for 36 from two-point range.

Coach Mike Rhoades said his guys have room for improvement in regards to their shooting. He said his players must learn to absorb contact when driving to the rim.

“We talk about it all the time in practice — we talk about eating the rim, not falling off the cliff,” Rhoades said. “We have to be more determined, number one. We got to be tougher, number two, and we have to continue to work on it.”

While his crew struggled to turn close-range shots into buckets, Rhoades said he was pleased with the looks his players got from behind the arc. 

The coach said the black and gold’s offensive flow in recent years has revolved around the three-point shot. He said that trait is here to stay with his 2019-20 squad.

“We shoot the three, we let it fly,” Rhoades said. “I want the right shots, but I want guys shooting threes. We’re always going to shoot threes.”

The Rams will hit the road for matchups against Charleston and Wichita State on Dec. 18 and Dec. 21, respectively. 

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