Rams showed ‘en­ergy and tough­ness’ in win at Texas

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - SPORTS 2 -

Af­ter Wed­nes­day’s 54-53 win over Texas, coach Mike Rhoades told Ram Ra­dio color com­men­ta­tor Mike Li­tos that VCU is be­com­ing a de­fen­sive team.

With an­other strong de­fen­sive show­ing — and a win de­spite shoot­ing a sea­son-low 28.1 per­cent over­all — that seems to be the case. The Rams have shown sus­tained im­prove­ment in an area that hurt them last year.

“I just thought we just played with re­ally good en­ergy and tough­ness,” Rhoades told re­porters af­ter­ward. “And that’s huge.”

The Rams forced the Longhorns, led by for­mer VCU coach Shaka Smart, to turn the ball over a sea­son-high 18 times. Eight of those turnovers came in the fi­nal 7:44 of the game, af­ter a dunk by Dy­lan Osetkowski gave Texas a 49-45 lead.

But the Longhorns got off just four at­tempts from the field from there, with 4 points.

“We talk about a 6-minute game, the last 6 min­utes of the game you got to be solid on de­fense,” Rhoades said on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, back in Rich­mond. “And if they’re go­ing to make shots, they’re mak­ing it over you. They’re fight­ing your de­fense late in the game. That gives us an ad­van­tage.

“And, I thought we guarded the ball ex­tremely well, that re­ally helped us. I thought we helped each other, but with­out get­ting beat, or with­out giv­ing up any open shots. And then I just thought we were in po­si­tion around the rim of mak­ing it re­ally hard for them to score.”

Texas fin­ished the game 41.5 per­cent over­all from the field, but 23.5 per­cent (4 of 17) from 3-point range, in­clud­ing 0 of 7 in the sec­ond half.

Through nine games now, ac­cord­ing to KenPom.com, VCU is hold­ing op­po­nents to an ef­fec­tive field goal per­cent­age of 40.4, which is third in the coun­try. VCU AT NO. 4 VIR­GINIA 1:30 p.m. TV: NBCSW

times was Mar­cus San­tos-Silva.

“Just be­cause he played so hard. And he’s tal­ented, he’s skilled, he’s a big kid that can fin­ish,” Rhoades said. “But he just played re­ally, re­ally hard. And if it was a good play or a bad play, he moved on from it, no mat­ter what. Just tried to play harder the next play.”

The 6-7, 250-pound sopho­more for­ward recorded 10 points, a ca­reer­high 16 re­bounds, a ca­reer-high five steals and two blocks. It was the first dou­ble-dou­ble of his ca­reer.

Out of San­tos-Silva’s to­tal re­bound count, eight were of­fen­sive re­bounds. VCU out­re­bounded Texas 39-36 over­all and 17-10 on the of­fen­sive glass.

Six of San­tos-Silva’s points, and nine of his re­bounds, came in the sec­ond half. He had a quick 4-0 spurt to give VCU a 38-37 lead with 14:38 to play. He also scored off his own of­fen­sive re­bound to tie the game at 49 with 5:18 left.

“They key for me was just to go and play hard,” San­tos-Silva said Thurs­day. “Go af­ter ev­ery loose ball,

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Guard Mar­cus Evans (left) and the Rams played with “re­ally good en­ergy and tough­ness” against the Longhorns, VCU coach Mike Rhoades said.

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