Rams showed ‘energy and toughness’ in win at Texas
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,
Guard Marcus Evans (left) and the Rams played with “really good energy and toughness” against the Longhorns, VCU coach Mike Rhoades said.