The VCU Rams got back into the win column on Thursday night with a much-needed victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers 71-67. It was quite the battle throughout the 40 minutes as the Rams went without Ace Baldwin Jr. for their second game and big man John Hughley sat out with a leg injury for the Panthers. It was a game of runs as both teams used some runs to hang around and make things interesting down the stretch. Free throws and foul trouble told the tale though, as VCU would come out on top in the end.
Transfers stepped up in a big way
The play of Brandon Johns Jr. and Zeb Jackson was pivotal as the Rams fought an up-and-down battle and much like Wednesday night, they saw a lead squandered, but this time they responded. Johns Jr. and Jackson were pivotal in the Rams’ 15-7 run to close out the final two minutes and close things out in Brooklyn with a victory.
Johns Jr. finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and two steals while Jackson finished with a career-high 16 points along with three steals, three rebounds and three assists. Johns Jr. scored seven of the team’s 15 points during their run to close out the game. The new blood is buying in and it’s shown in a big way with a victory over Pittsburgh.
Free throws allow the Rams to keep their edge
In the early going, it looked like free throws would be a thorn in the Rams’ side once again, but they bounced back in the second half. As a team, they shot 15-of-19 from the free-throw line in the second half, to turn things around after going 11-of-16 in the first half.
The Rams were much more deliberate about getting the ball inside and in the end, kept the Panthers in foul trouble, fouling out Guillermo Diaz Graham and keeping players in foul trouble. By the end of things, four players finished the game with four fouls and the Rams took all of the momentum with them into victory.
Josh Banks steps up big
Ace Baldwin Jr. is out for an extended amount of time but it hasn’t slowed Josh Banks from stepping up in a big way. For the second game in a row, Banks came up with another strong performance off the bench.
He finished with nine points and an assist and scored a key layup on the break to breathe some life into the Rams’ offense when it was much needed in 21 minutes of action. Coach Rhoades has really put some trust in him off the bench and he’s responded quite nicely by being a spark off the bench when needed.