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La Salle at VCU
When and Where: Wednesday, Jan. 9, Stuart Siegel Center, Richmond, Va., 7 p.m. EST.
Hot-shooting VCU looks to match a season high with its fourth straight win Wednesday night when it hosts a La Salle team looking for a fourth consecutive victory of its own.
Explorers may have turned corner with win at UMass
After losing his first 10 games in his first season as head coach, Ashley Howard is trying to make up that lost ground as La Salle (3-10, 1-0 Atlantic 10) seeks its first four-game winning streak since a five-game run from Jan. 4-19, 2017.
The pick-up in confidence following wins over Alabama A&M and Towson in the Boardwalk Battle in Atlantic City prior to Christmas carried into their conference opener Saturday when the Explorers surprised UMass 69-60 on the road.
First @A10MBB victory of the season ✅
— La Salle Men’s Basketball (@LaSalleMBB) January 6, 2019
Saul Phiri went 4 for 5 from 3-point range and finished with a season-high 20 points while Pookie Powell added all 17 of his in the second half for La Salle, which had gone 5-31 on the road in A-10 play in its previous four seasons.
“I”m really proud of our guys,” Howard told La Salle’s official website. “I felt like our time off and our preparation going into this game really helped us play against a tough UMass team. I’m just proud of the way our guys came out and fought and didn’t quit. It was a back and forth game. We got down, our guys didn’t hold their heads, they continued to get stops and rebounds. All their hard work paid off for them.
Phiri, who hounded UMass leading scorer Luwane Pipkins into a 3-for-16 shooting effort, also had a career-high four steals as the Explorers offset 38.2 percent shooting by forcing 18 turnovers and limiting the Minutemen to 36.5 percent from the floor.
Powell, who also recorded his 1,000th career point with La Salle in two-plus seasons after transferring from Memphis, is averaging a team-best 18.0 points. Isiah Deas is also in double figures at 11.8 points per game, but the Explorers are shooting just 40.4 percent overall.
It is also uncertain if this improved defense will travel again as Howard’s team is yielding an Atlantic 10-worst 77.6 points per game while letting opponents shoot 47.4 percent.
VCU coming off impressive road dismantling of Fordham
The Rams (10-4, 1-0) continued their hot shooting that ended non-conference play in Saturday’s 76-51 thrashing of Fordham on the road to open their Atlantic 10 slate.
VCU shot a season-best 66.7 percent from the floor, its best such effort since connecting at a 67.3 percent clip versus Delaware in 2004. The Rams have shot 50 percent or better in their last three games and are 21 for 45 from 3-point range in the last two.
Santos-Silva with the thunder! He has nine points this half!
— VCU Basketball (@VCU_Hoops) January 5, 2019
“I thought, (Saturday), the way we played was contagious,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Sharing the basketball, really helping each other on defense and sticking to the scouting report.”
Despite the sudden uptick in 3-point shooting, the Rams are still connecting at just 29.7 percent from long range on the season. VCU, though, is second in the A-10 with 17.1 turnovers forced per game and is just behind Saint Louis for the best scoring defense at 62.7 points per contest.
- 6-2-1 ATS in its last nine games following a straight up win.
- 5-2 ATS in its last seven games.
- 4-1 ATS in its last five games vs. La Salle.
- The over is 7-3 in its last 10 games as a favorite of 13 or more points.
- The over is 9-4 in its last 13 games after a straight up win by 20 or more points.
- The over is 4-1 in its last five games vs. La Salle.
La Salle is:
- 8-20 ATS in its last 28 games vs. Atlantic 10 opponents.
- 5-21 ATS in its last 26 road games vs. teams with an above-.500 home record.
- 6-20-1 ATS in its last 27 games as a road underdog.
- The over is 6-1 in its last seven games as an underdog of 13 or more points.
- The over is 8-3 in its last 11 road games vs. teams with an above-.500 home record.
- The over is 12-5 in its last 17 road games vs. teams with an above-.600 home record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Rams made quick work of a Fordham team that had played well to that point and should do the same with a La Salle squad that, while it turned in arguably its best performance of the season, still has too many holes on both sides of the ball to deal with a frenetic VCU squad.
If the Rams continue to click on the perimeter like they have the last two games, this could get out of hand quickly. This line has moved two points in La Salle’s direction in the overnight, but that does not feel like enough to warrant taking the Explorers.
Prediction: Pick: VCU -12.5
Full-Game Total Pick
VCU has scored 80 or more points in each of its three wins over La Salle in the last three meetings, and the up-tempo style both teams play should yield enough possessions with points to overcome the stretches of sloppy play for the over to hit.
This line has spiked 3.5 points higher, so hopefully, you jumped on this line early. Still, this game figures to be an up-and-down affair in which VCU should get at least 80 and potentially more.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 139.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
Much like its game at Fordham, the expectation is an experienced VCU team is going to establish the tone of this game against a young Explorers squad. The Explorers have given up an average of 85.2 points in going 0-5 at home, and the Rams defensive presence plays into the weaknesses of a La Salle team averaging 16.1 turnovers.
Prediction: Pick: VCU -7
Half-Time Total Bet
While the Explorers’ defense has tightened in the last three games, the number is still too low to believe VCU and La Salle will come up short given its respective paces.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 67 points