November 12, 2010

RODRIGUEZ SETS ASSIST MARK IN SEASON-OPENING 101-86 WIN OVER UNC GREENSBORO

RICHMOND, Va. – It probably wasn't a coincidence that senior Joey Rodriguez of Virginia Commonwealth University men's basketball was handling interview questions while former teammate and current NBA point guard Eric Maynor was dishing out an assists on ESPN on the television screen above him.

Rodriguez was the star of quite a show for the Rams, who opened the 2010-11 campaign with a 101-86 victory over UNC Greensboro at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

The senior from Merritt Island, Fla. dished out a single-game VCU record 17 assists, along with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

"Statistically, it's tough to ask for a better night out of a point guard," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "He really came out and led the way in all aspects. Joey's pretty tough on himself so he'll want more, but as a coaching staff that's what you want to see, a desire to get better every day."

Five Rams finished in double-figures led by senior Brandon Rozzell with 23 points, thanks to five three-pointers. Classmate Jamie Skeen was the third member of the Black & Gold over the 20-point plateau with 22 points and seven rebounds on the night.

"Offensively, I thought we did a lot of good things, but also think we can get better on that end," Smart said. "Defensively, we have to be better. We can't let up 86 points a night, and we have to give more energy for 40 minutes on that end of the court."

With the Rams leading 15-8, junior Toby Veal sparked an early 12-4 run that pushed the advantage to a 27-12 lead. The run happened quickly thanks to four UNCG turnovers and seven points off the fastbreak over a four minute span.

After the Rams took an 11-point lead into halftime, three-pointers from Rodriguez and Rozzell early in the second-half quickly pushed the cushion to 19 at 72-53 with 14:27 to remaining in regulation.

UNCG would cut the lead to nine with less than four minutes to play, but VCU responded with nine straight points, five from Jamie Skeen, to run away with its 12th straight home win.

It marked just the second 100-point game in the past three years for the Black & Gold, with the other coming last year in a 112-59 home victory over CAA foe, Towson.

Brandon Evans and Korey Van Dussen both tallied career-highs in scoring for the Spartans with 26 and 18 points, respectively.

The Rams are back in action on Monday when they open play in the Preseason NIT with a 9:30 p.m. showdown against Winthrop on the campus of Wake Forest University.

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