November 27, 2009
SANDERS, NIXON LEAD RAMS PAST NEVADA, 85-76
RICHMOND, Va. – While the rest of the country was running around stores and shopping malls, the Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball team was busy running up and down the hardwood, en route to an 85-76 victory over the University of Nevada on Friday night.
Led by 17 points apiece from juniors Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) and Ed Nixon (St. Petersburg, Fla.) (below), the Rams sped past a very talented Wolfpack (2-2) squad to pick up a third straight victory and improve to 4- on the year.
“I was very, very pleased with our guys tonight,” Head Coach Shaka Smart. “Nevada is an extremely talented team that will compete at the top of their conference and Luke Babbitt is just a phenomenal player. I’m proud of the way our guys buckled down on the defensive side and limited their explosive offensive.”
With the VCU up just 6-5 early on, Sanders slammed home a dunk with 15:32 to play in the first half and ignited a 14-4 run that included three-pointers from both Nixon and Brandon Rozzell (Richmond, Va.) as the Black & Gold grabbed a 20-9 advantage.
Brandon Fields would make sure VCU would not get to far away, scoring 12 first-half points to keep the lead at just seven, 35-28, heading into the locker rooms.
At the half, Nevada standouts Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson were a combined 3-of-20 from the field.
The second half was much of the same with the Black & Gold running out to a big lead early thanks to outstanding play by Nixon who gave VCU its biggest lead, 60-40, with a dunk off a steal by freshman Darius Theus (Portsmouth, Va.).
Babbitt would heat up big time, connecting on 10-of-14 in the second half, and bringing the Wolfpack within seven with less than two minutes to play.
Nixon would once again come up with a big time shot as he drilled a three-pointer from the left wing to push the lead to 10 with under a minute to play to seal the home victory for the Black & Gold.
“Ed has been outstanding for us,” Smart said. “He’s done a great job on both sides of the court. He’s such a dynamic player and can hurt opponents in so many different ways.”
Sanders led the way with his 15th career double-double, adding 14 rebounds to his 17-point output. He also blocked five shots on the evening.
Nixon had a career night with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 2-of-3 from long distance. Sophomore Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) tallied double-figures for the fourth time in five games with 12 points, all in the second half.
“Our depth is really big for us right now,” Smart added. “When we can run 9-10 guys out there a night and get production from all of them, that’s huge for us.”
Babbitt was the game’s high scorer with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Joey Shaw and Fields added 14 and 13 respectively. Dario Hunt was the force down low with 10 points and 13 rebounds, 11 of which were on the offensive end.
“We have to sure up our offensive rebounding, but this game couldn’t have come at a better time for us with Rhode Island coming in here next. They hurt us on the boards last year, so that’s definitely something we’re going to focus on heading into next week,” Smart said.
The Rams will take on that Rhode Island squad next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.