Thu, 09 Feb 2023

Vanderbilt, VCU meet after posting challenging wins

Field Level Media
30 Nov 2022, 08:55 GMT+10

Vanderbilt, a winner of three of its past four games, will visit Virginia Commonwealth for a nonconference game on Wednesday night in Richmond, Va.

VCU (4-2) needed a game-ending, 14-4 run Saturday to close a 64-61 home win over Kennesaw State. Guard Jayden Nunn led the Rams with 24 points. Eight of those came from the foul line, where VCU (24 of 33) outshot the Owls (9 of 18).

"They stuck together," VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. "I thought that we had some bad body language in the first half, but they came together and said that we need to figure this out. In the second half we took it one possession at a time, and even when they scored, we stayed level, we just battled the entire half. I said to the guys that we showed some grit in the second half."

The Rams won despite an off night from leading scorer Brandon Johns Jr., who had eight points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field. VCU also had Jamir Watkins (9.2 ppg) for just six minutes against Kennesaw State due to a bone bruise in his knee that leaves him questionable for Wednesday's game.

The Commodores (3-3), meanwhile, battled injuries and trailed by seven late in the first half of their most recent game, Thursday vs. Fresno State. But Vanderbilt leaned on its veterans in a 67-59 win.

The Commodores' Liam Robbins scored 20 points for the second time in four games, while Tyrin Lawrence added 19 and Myles Stute 16. Robbins added eight blocks, giving him 15 for the season.

"They're guys that know what we're doing and they got the win for us," coach Jerry Stackhouse said. "I'm really proud of our group, proud of how we were able to just weather the storm. It wasn't a perfect game, it was a little bit of an ugly game, but we'd rather win ugly than lose pretty any night. I'm proud of our guys."

Vanderbilt hopes for better health this week. Stackhouse said starting forward Quentin Millora-Brown and reserve guard Noah Shelby battled the flu last week, while starting point guard Ezra Manjon and fellow starter Jordan Wright fought through injuries.

Vanderbilt's biggest win of the season came at Temple two weeks ago, 89-87 in overtime.

VCU is 3-0 at home, its other victories coming against Manhattan and Morgan State.

--Field Level Media

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