Lost in a football Sunday was a strange neutral court game in Atlanta between VCU and Florida State. VCU was looking to extend a three game win streak and garner their highest quality win of the year, while FSU was trying to get the taste of an overtime road loss against Iowa in the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge.
VCU is a good team, as they showed Wednesday in a gritty road win at Middle Tennessee State. Will Wade's Rams could be a great thing but they are missing one thing... a point guard.
VCU essentially had an "off night" in Atlanta and still almost knocked off the Seminoles. The Rams went into halftime down 40-29 only to rally back in second half to take a lead. VCU's comeback was willed by Melvin Johnson's unconscious 36 point day where he went 8-for-14 from downtown. Johnson put the Rams on his shoulders and nearly took them all way to a big win against an ACC foe.
Lost in Johnson's huge performance was the underlying need the Rams have for a pure ball-handler. Since the Rams appearance in the 2K Classic JeQuan Lewis and Jonathan Williams have seemingly fallen out of favor in the Wade regime. That move has forced Johnson and Korey Billbury to have the ball in their hands the most for VCU. Usually it works out, when Johnson has a day like today, but it also results in a lot of turnovers on the dribble drive and doesn't get the rest of the team involved. VCU turned the ball over 20 times today and only got 22 points from beyond the Johnson/Billbury combo, including two points total from the bench.
Leading the way for FSU in the Seminoles 76-71 win was Xavier Rathan-Mayes who finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. His four hits from downtown and solid free throw shooting buoyed an FSU lineup where only one other player, Malik Beasley, finished in double figures.
Wade will have an opportunity to take a breath as the Rams hit the exam break with a 5-3 mark on the season. VCU does not play again until December 15 when they head right back to Atlanta for a match up with Georgia Tech. VCU is running out of potential non-conference resume bullets for the selection committee at this point, the Rams best win is against injury-stricken 4-4 Old Dominion. VCU needs a win on their next trip to Atlanta before hosting #17 Cincinnati in what will be a huge match up and a homecoming for Richmond native Troy Caupain.