RAMS BATTLE 13TH-RANKED ALABAMA TO THE END, BUT FALL, 72-64
TUSCALOOSA, ALA. – In several preseason interviews, VCU Basketball Head Coach Shaka Smart talked about having two types of goals, process goals and result goals. On Sunday night, the entire country got to see several of those process goals coming to fruition.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the result goals did not happen as the Black & Gold took a hard-fought loss to 13th-ranked Alabama and former VCU Head Coach Anthony Grant, 72-64. It was the 24th straight home victory for the Crimson Tide, who improved to 7-0 on the year, while the Rams drop to 3-3.
"Alabama deserved to win this game because of the way they defended and played hard for the entire 40 minutes," Head Coach Shaka Smart. "I thought we saw some good things at times tonight, but ultimately if you don't play hard and focused for 40 minutes, you're going to get beat. When we focus on our plan and play hard for 40 minutes, that's when we'll get the results we're looking for."
Senior Bradford Burgess posted his fifth straight games in double-figures with 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Sophomores Juvonte Reddic and Rob Brandenberg were the other two Rams in double-digits, each chipping in 10 points apiece.
For Alabama, JaMychal Green was a problem all night, finishing with 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Tony Mitchell was the only other Crimson Tide player in double-figures with 13 points.
"Ultimately, we just didn't stick to the plan," Burgess said. "For us, there's no such thing as moral victories. We had a game plan coming in and we just didn't stick to it for 40 minutes."
The five ties and six lead changes in the first five minutes of the games was just foreshadowing as the contest was hotly-contested throughout. Neither team would lead by more than five until a jumper by Mitchell put the Crimson Tide up 28-23 with 6:02 to play in the first stanza.
With Alabama leading 30-25, the Rams would put together four straight defensive stops and knock down three critical buckets during an 8-0 run that ultimately sent VCU into halftime with a 33-32 cushion.
The second half started just like the first with more ties and more lead changes until Burgess took over.
With the score tied at 42, Burgess' connected on two treys sandwiched around a bucket from sophomore D.J. Haley that would give the Black & Gold their largest lead of the game at 50-44 with 13:46 remaining.
VCU would retain the lead for the next 9:56 until the Crimson Tide put together a 12-3 run that ultimately would prove to be the difference in the 72-64 victory for Alabama.
Entering the contest, the Crimson Tide had not lost at Coleman Coliseum for 638 days and the Rams put that streak to the ultimate test, leading for a total of 20:48 of the contest, while Alabama held the lead for just 15:10.
The Rams tallied double-digit offensive rebounds for the fourth time this year, pulling down 14 on the night, led by four from freshman Briante Web er. Once again, Weber was a do-it-all guy for the Black & Gold, finishing with eight points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal.
"While it certainly hurts, we will use this as a learning experience for our guys and once again look to be better in all areas the next time we step onto the court," Smart said.
After five straight games away from home, VCU finally returns to the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Wednesday night. The Rams will take on their fourth BCS opponent of the year when the Bulls of South Florida visit Richmond for a 7:30 p.m. contest. Like all home games, it can be seen via ESPN3.com.