VCU and Rhode Island lock horns in A-10 tussle

Jan 13, 2015 - 3:48 PM Kingston, RI ( - The 17th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams look to extend an eight-game win streak as they host the Rhode Island Rams in an Atlantic 10 Conference battle at the Ryan Center.

VCU, which owns a 13-3 record on the season and is 3-0 in conference play, embarks on a three-game road trip. The Rams are 3-1 away from home this season.

Rhode Island has its own win streak going as it heads into Tuesday's contest. The host Rams have won six games in a row, which includes a 61-60 victory over Duquesne in the team's last outing. URI is a perfect 7-0 at home this season, and is 3-0 in conference play.

VCU holds a slim 3-2 all-time lead over Rhode Island. This is the only time during this regular season the two programs will meet on the basketball floor.

Virginia Commonwealth kept its win streak alive with a commanding 89-74 victory over Saint Joseph's in A-10 play on Saturday, even though the Hawks connected on 49 percent of their shots in the contest. VCU made 42.5 percent of its shots from the floor, but buried 12-of-23 from 3-point distance to take a commanding lead. Melvin Johnson netted 20 points to leads the team in scoring, while Treveon Graham tallied 19 points with seven rebounds in the lopsided win. Briante Weber chipped in with 11 points, seven assists and five steals for VCU, and Terry Larrier came off the bench to net 10 points in the team's eighth consecutive victory.

Graham and Johnson have been staples of the VCU offense this season, and the Rams come into Tuesday's contest netting 76.8 ppg on 44.1 percent shooting from the field. Graham tops the squad with a 16.5 ppg mark, while Johnson comes in right behind him at 14.2 ppg. Graham's 6.9 rpg average is a team best as well, and Weber dishes out a VCU-high 4.9 apg headed into Tuesday. The Rams are allowing opponents to score 66.7 ppg this season on 43.5 percent shooting. VCU is averaging nearly 77 ppg this season despite the fact that Weber is the next closest to double-digit scoring at 7.8 ppg.

Rhode Island trailed Duquesne by eight points heading into halftime. But the visitors made sure they wouldn't stay down for long, as they connected on 46.4 percent of their second-half field goal attempts, and added an 11-of-13 mark from the free-throw line to make a serious comeback to earn the narrow one- point victory. E.C. Matthews led the Rams in the win with 18 points, while Hassan Martin tallied a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jarvis Garrett rounded out Rhode Island's trio of double-digit scorers in the win with 10 points.

Rhode Island's scoring offense has had a respectable year so far, as the team enters Tuesday's clash averaging 70.0 ppg on 47 percent shooting from the field. Matthews leads the charge on offense averaging 17.4 ppg, adding in 4.4 rpg and 2.2 apg. Martin tallies 11.8 ppg for Rhode Island, while the forward brings down a team-best 6.9 rpg mark. Those are the only two Rams netting a double-digit scoring total, although Gilvydas Biruta chips in 9.1 ppg to come close.

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