Foggy Bottom 411: GW-VCU preview

Foggy Bottom 411: GW-VCU preview
March 15, 2014, 7:00 am
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Matchup: No. 3 George Washington (24-7, 11-5 Atlantic 10) vs. No. 2 VCU (25-7, 12-4)

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn

What: Atlantic 10 Tournament

Broadcast: TV - CBSSN, Radio - 1050 AM.

What's new: The Colonials defeated Massachusetts 85-77 in the quarterfinals on Friday night with six players scoring in double figures including Nemanja Mikic with 14 points. Earlier in the evening, The 23rd ranked Rams pounded Richmond on the boards and Briante Weber scored 18 points for a 71-53 victory.

History: GW and VCU split two games this season, each winning on its own home court. The Rams are 5-1 all-time, 4-1 under coach Shaka Smart.

KenPom: George Washington 39 VCU 13

RPI: George Washington 28 VCU 13

Coaches: George Washington - Mike Lonergan; VCU - Shaka Smart

Leaders: GW - Scoring (Maurice Creek, 14.6), Rebounding (Isaiah Armwood, 8.7), Assists (Joe McDonald, 4.0); VCU - Scoring (Treveon Graham, 15.6), Rebounding (Juvonte Reddic, 8.5), Assists (Briante Weber, 3.7)


*GW gains revenge, A-10 semifinal spot by dumping UMass

*Scoring, thieving Briante Weber leads VCU past Richmond

*Pressure-free GW readies for A-10 tourney run

*Foggy Bottom 411: Mike Lonergan on Kethan Savage's injury, "True Detective"

When last we met: One month after winning the first meeting 76-66 at the Smith Center, GW fell behind by 17 points halftime and committed 22 turnovers en route to losing at VCU 92-75. The Colonials pulled within five points midway through the second when VCU pulled away with 10 straight points. Armwood and Creek each scored 17 points for GW. Graham scored 25 points and Melvin Johnson had 21 points for the Rams. 

Matchup to watch: All season GW's Joe McDonald held the burden as essentially the team's lone point guard. That responsibility becomes truly magnified against VCU's suffocating "Havoc" pressure defense. Another wrinkle in the challenge against a team that leads the country in steals (11.5) is that McDonald is far from 100 percent. The sophomore has battled a hip injury all season and essentially never participates in full team practices. Now McDonald, who had seven assists and seven turnovers in the two previous games against VCU -  must face the Rams on less than 24 hours rest -- and do so without Kethan Savage. GW's second-leading scorer played in the first meeting, but missed the past 13 games with a fractured left foot. 

They said it: "Well, we are going to have to really handle the ball better than we did tonight in the game there. ...Now without Kethan [Savage], as you saw tonight under pressure, we don't have a lot of ball handlers.  Kevin Larsen is going to have to help us out, and Maurice is going to have to do a much better job, I think he had six turnovers tonight, so it's kind of going to have to be a team effort. It's easier said than done. [The Rams] have got a heck of a team, and the defense is incredible.  Not a lot of turnaround time, so it's not an ideal matchup for us; but you know what we are excited about playing, we can play loose and hopefully we'll just trade shots, not turnovers." - Lonergan on facing VCU

Milestone watch: With a win on Saturday, Smart becomes the winningest coach in VCU, passing Sonny Smith. Both are tied with 136 victories. ...

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