RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - VCU and Rhode Island meet in Kingston on Tuesday night in a key early season test for Shaka Smart and his team. Both groups of Rams enter this contest 3-0 in Atlantic 10 play, quite a different story from the Rhode Island teams VCU has faced during its previous two years in the league.
In its first two years in the conference, VCU was 24-8, while Rhode Island compiled just eight wins in that same span. This year, URI seems poised and equipped to make a run at a top four conference spot. Those Rams are 11-3 on the season and have won six games in a row. Shaka Smart says Rhode Island's defensive ability jumps out when watching them on film. They lead the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 58.7 points per game. Smart calls them one of the better defensive teams in the country.
Rhode Island also boasts the Atlantic 10's leading scorer in sophomore E.C. Matthews, who posts 17.4 points per game. VCU will also have to contain forward Hassan Martin, who leads the conference in field goal percentage and averages 11.8 points per game.
As for VCU, the 17th-ranked Rams are 13-3 and have won eight games in a row, but Smart says they don't dwell too much on the previous wins or losses. He says there are things they can learn from each particular victory or defeat, but the process they follow doesn't change, and they have a certain formula they try to follow on the road.
Tip-off is set for 7:30pm at Rhode Island on Tuesday night. This kicks off a stretch of three straight road games for VCU, the longest road stretch of the season.