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Atlantic 10 Friday Preview: VCU and Richmond clash in rivalry rematch

Game of the Night

Richmond Spiders vs. VCU Rams

It wasn’t exactly easy, but VCU found a way to knock off Richmond back in early January at the Robins Center in front of a rival crowd. Winning 94-89 in overtime behind JeQuan Lewis’ career-high 29 point performance, the Rams would win their 8th straight game overall and 5th straight in conference play. Both teams got huge performances from their star players. In addition to Lewis’ 29 points, VCU got 20 points from Korey Billbury and 17 from Melvin Johnson. ShawnDre’ Jones scored 26 for Richmond, leading the Spiders in that category, while T.J. Cline dropped 22. Terry Allen and Trey Davis combined to score 34 points and pull down 17 rebounds. This game was heated, and with more than just a win on the line, each team left it all out on the floor. We should expect nothing less when Richmond visits the Siegel Center on Friday night seeking vengeance.

Since losing to the Rams at home, Richmond hasn’t been able to do much in conference play. The Spiders have since gone 4-4 but have managed to win 3 of their last 4. VCU would go onto win its next 4 before losing 2 straight, including a horrible loss to Massachusetts. The Rams are now coming off a 2 game winning streak after dominating home performances over Saint Louis and Rhode Island. The Rams have a very difficult stretch at the end of the regular season, including road games against Dayton and George Washington, so it would really benefit them to get the series sweep over their rivals. Richmond, on the other hand, is searching for some sort of momentum going into the post-season and could really use a morale-boosting win over VCU.

The last time these two teams met, Richmond killed itself in two categories: three point shooting and free throw shooting. From downtown, the Spiders went just 3-18 (16.7%), and from the charity stripe, they went just 16-26 (61.5%). Richmond also got a technical for having 6 players on the court at one point late in the game. This cost the Spiders a point; they would end up losing in overtime. VCU’s ability to get that road win was due partially to its rebounding. The Rams controlled the boards 45-34 and managed to pull down 12 on the offensive end compared to just 6 for Richmond. Justin Tillman and Mo Alie-Cox were huge on the glass, pulling down a combined 17 rebounds. If the Rams crash the boards once again, they’ll have the upper hand due to second chance points.

Perhaps the most interesting matchup on Friday night will be between JeQuan Lewis and ShawnDre’ Jones. The two guards went off last time these teams met, trading buckets and trying to give their respective teams the edge down the stretch. Lewis and Jones have been great in conference play, and when the two elusive guards meet head-to-head for the second time this season, there’s no telling just how well they’ll be able to play. Expect this to be a great rivalry game between two teams that hate each other’s guts. There’s really nothing better than a game that means so much to the respective fan bases.

Grant Labedz is a college basketball superfan who loves the entire sport but definitely has favorites in the A-10 and the Big Ten. He has written for ...