DAYTON, Ohio -- VCU did what UAB couldn't at the First Four: justify its controversial at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.
The Rams bought major credibility for themselves and restored some for the selection committee by beating USC 59-46 on Wednesday night. It was a contrast in styles, and although the score might indicate that the game was played at the Trojans' pace, VCU's pressure and 3-point shooting flustered USC in the second half. Here's a quick recap:
Turning point: Tied at halftime, VCU built a 10-point lead early in the second half by burying four of five 3-point attempts. USC got back to within one at 44-43 just after the under-eight minute timeout. But then Ed Nixon hit a 3, and the Rams scored 15 of the game's final 18 points. With his team in foul trouble, coach Shaka Smart switched to a 2-3 zone in the final minutes that bothered USC. The Trojans also looked tired down the stretch, perhaps suffering the consequences of a short rotation battling a steady full-court press. They had only two field goals in the final nine minutes.
Key stat: VCU, one of the worst rebounding teams in the country statistically, beat the bigger Trojans on the glass 40-31. The Rams also hit nine 3-pointers, compared to just one for USC.
What's next: VCU will go on to play Southwest Region No. 6 seed Georgetown on Friday in Chicago.