VCU takes down USC, will face GeorgetownMar 17, 2011 - 7:35 AM Dayton, OH (Sports Network) - Jamie Skeen scored a game-high 16 points to lead Virginia Commonwealth to a 59-46 victory over Southern California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Perhaps motivated by the controversy surrounding their at-large bid, the Rams (24-11) pulled away in the second half and moved on as a No. 11 seed to face sixth-seeded Georgetown in the Southwest Region on Friday.
"Getting this win is just another notch under my belt. We want to get another win against Georgetown," Skeen said.
Despite getting their head coach back on the bench, the Trojans (19-15) failed to capitalize on their own at-large selection. Jio Fontan scored 14 points and Nikola Vucevic added 11 in the loss.
The game was part of the new format for this year's 68-team NCAA Tournament -- the last of the "First Four" games held Tuesday and Wednesday at University of Dayton Arena.
USC head coach Kevin O'Neill was reinstated by the school on Sunday, the same day the Trojans were selected to the tournament. He was suspended for the team's semifinal loss to top-seeded Arizona in the Pac-10 tournament, reportedly for a verbal altercation with an Arizona booster Thursday night.
"We didn't control the pace like we wanted to," Fontan said. "They're a great team."
His Trojans out-shot VCU 40 percent to 28 in a dreadful first half for both teams that saw just six total points scored in the opening six-plus minutes of action.
The game was tied 22-22 heading into the second half and remained close until Joey Rodriguez buried a three-pointer to spark a 9-0 VCU run that gave the rams a 10-point lead inside 13 minutes.
USC cut its deficit all the way down to a point when Fontan hit the second of two free throw attempts with under eight minutes to play. But Ed Nixon drilled a key three-pointer at the other end to give the Rams a 47-43 lead, sparking a 7-0 run that put them in control for good.
The biggest lead by either team in the game was VCU's final margin. Its final run to end the second half was 15-3 over the last seven-plus minutes.
Shaking off five losses in their last eight games out of the unheralded Colonial Athletic Association, the Rams were flying to Chicago to play Georgetown on Friday.
They moved to 6-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, where they have made four appearances since 2004.
The Trojans, making their 16th appearance in the NCAAs, fell to 12-17 all-time in the tournament. The finished the season with losses in three of their final five games.
It was the first-ever meeting between the teams...The Rams are playing in the NCAAs for the 11th time, but are making their first at-large appearance since the 1983-84 season. They took down top-seeded George Mason in the semifinals of the conference tournament last week before losing to Old Dominion in the final...USC was last in the NCAAs in 2009, dismissing Boston College in the first round before falling to eventual runner-up Michigan State in the second.
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1st Half - 20:00
Mar 16 9:35 PM
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