Rams butt heads with Wildcats in A-10 matchup

Jan 7, 2015 - 3:38 PM Richmond, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Davidson Wildcats are set for their first-ever Atlantic 10 Conference road game on Wednesday night when they pay a visit to the Siegel Center to take on the 20th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams.

Davidson has won eight of its last nine games, including an 81-67 victory over Richmond in its A-10 debut this past Saturday. At 10-2 overall, the Wildcats have matched their best start (2008-09) under head coach Bob McKillop. Their only losses so far have come against then No. 6 North Carolina and No. 3 Virginia.

VCU has also been hot of late and enters this contest seeking a seventh straight win. The Rams opened their conference slate on Sunday with a 75-58 victory at Fordham. Their average margin of victory during the six-game win streak has been more than 17 points per game.

The Wildcats, who are new to the A-10 this season, won the only prior meeting against VCU back in March 2005, 77-62.

Davidson got some great guard play against Richmond, as the starting backcourt tandem of Jack Gibbs (32 points) and Tyler Kalinoski (21) combined for 53 points. Gibbs had 23 points by halftime -- his third game this season with at least 20 in a half -- as the Wildcats used a 24-9 run to grab the early lead and never looked back. Andrew McAuliffe added 10 points in 19 minutes off the bench.

Gibbs and Kalinoski rank third and fourth, respectively, among the A-10 scoring leaders. Gibbs, who leads the Wildcats in 3-point field-goal percentage (.481), free-throw percentage (.909), assists (4.8) and steals (1.7), is averaging a team-best 17.4 ppg, while Kalinoski is scoring 16.8 ppg. As a team, the Wildcats are fourth nationally in both scoring offense (85.8 ppg) and 3-pointers per game (11.3), and they lead the country in assist- turnover ratio (1.76).

VCU currently ranks third in the country in turnover margin (+7.3) and fourth in steals per game (10.9), a product of coach Shaka Smart's vaunted Havoc pressure defense. When they need a bucket, the Rams often turn to senior Treveon Graham, a 44.4-percent shooter from the perimeter who leads the team in scoring (16.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.6 rpg). Melvin Johnson is also averaging double figures with 14.0 ppg.

The Rams simply overwhelmed Fordham on Sunday by forcing a season-high 28 turnovers, including 21 steals. It was the fifth time this season that VCU forced its opponent into more turnovers than field goals (20). Graham and fellow senior Briante Weber each had 14 points and seven rebounds, with Weber adding six steals to his stat line.

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