Rams butt heads with cross-town rival Spiders

Jan 31, 2015 - 3:45 PM Richmond, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Going for an impressive 13th consecutive victory, the 14th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams will take on their cross- town rival Richmond Spiders at home in an Atlantic 10 Conference showdown at the Siegel Center.

VCU extended its win streak to 12 straight after the Rams absolutely dominated the George Washington Colonials, 72-48, at home on Tuesday. VCU is a perfect 7-0 in A-10 action, and owns a healthy 9-1 record at the Siegel Center.

Richmond comes into Saturday's match having won two of its last three games, but the Spiders easily could have taken all three of their most recent matches. The Spiders crushed Davidson (89-63), then dropped a close contest to No. 22 Dayton (63-60), and then beat up on Duquesne (86-55) on Wednesday. They are 11-9 on the season with a 4-3 mark in A-10 play.

These two rivals have met 71 times on the floor before, with VCU owning a commanding 45-26 all-time series advantage over Richmond. The Rams have won each of the last four meetings against the Spiders, and own a 25-12 mark at home.

Richmond put on a dominating performance against Duquesne on Wednesday, as the Spiders opened with a crushing first-half in which they shot 60.7 percent from the floor to open up a 49-27 lead at the intermission. There was no looking back after that, as the Spiders finished the game shooting 53.6 percent from the floor. ShawnDre' Jones led the charge for Richmond with 27 points, connecting on a near-perfect 7-of-8 from the free-throw line and 4-of-10 from 3-point range. Kendall Anthony contributed 16 points to the winning effort, while Terry Allen chipped in with 11 points. The Spiders attempted 30 shots from beyond the arc in the game, and made 13 of them.

Until fairly recently, Richmond's offense wasn't very special. The team still averages a pedestrian 65.2 ppg this season on 47 percent shooting from the floor, but the Spiders have exploded in their last few games, netting at least 70 points in three of their last four outings. Anthony leads the charge for Richmond this season with 16.0 ppg, followed by Allen's 11.8 ppg mark and T.J. Cline's 11.3 ppg. Allen pulls down a team-high 5.4 rpg this season, and Jones has dished out a team-best 58 assists. It's been a strong defensive effort that has helped Richmond as well. The Spiders rank third in the A-10 in scoring defense, holding opponents to a mere 59.8 ppg.

VCU and George Washington battled it out in the first half of Tuesday's conference matchup, with the Rams owning a slight advantage at halftime. But a cold Colonials squad in the second period allowed the Rams to open up a large lead for the win. George Washington netted just 19.2 percent of its field goal tries in the second frame, and missed all 11 of its 3-point attempts. VCU hit on 48.6 percent of its shots to pull way ahead. Terry Larrier came off the bench to net 15 points to pace the Rams, while Jequan Lewis chipped in with 13 points and Mo Alie-Cox collected 10 points with eight rebounds in the victory.

Treveon Graham netted seven points in the team's win over GWU, and that was all the Rams would need from their leading scorer. Graham currently leads VCU in scoring at 16.7 ppg this season - ranked fifth individually in the A-10. Melvin Johnson is the only other Ram to average a double-digit scoring figure this season at 13.1 ppg. But VCU has used a bevy of role players to gain an offensive advantage, as the Rams rank second in the conference in scoring offense with 74.9 ppg on 43.3 percent shooting. Graham also leads the team in rebounding at 6.7 boards per outing, while Briante Weber's 84 assists and whopping 72 steals are the most on the squad.

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