La Salle-VCU Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- After having the third-longest win streak in school history snapped, VCU hopes a return to form on the defensive end will help continue its winning ways at home.
La Salle, however, knows a little something about stopping a lengthy winning streak.
The 19th-ranked Rams will try to bounce back and win their 10th straight at home Saturday night when they take on the Explorers, who look to defeat their second straight ranked opponent.
Despite having a seven-point lead with 42 seconds remaining in regulation, VCU (16-4, 4-1) couldn't hold on as its 13-game winning streak came to an end with an 86-74 overtime loss at Richmond on Thursday.
"I felt like we had it," guard Darius Theus said. "We just let a few plays slip up. We just had a few defensive mishaps and they made a lot of plays. We just have to finish the game."
While their defensive mistakes have been few and far between this season, the Rams haven't appeared to be as dominant at that end lately.
VCU leads the nation with 20.8 forced turnovers and 12.5 steals per game, but has averaged 17.0 and 8.3, respectively, over its last four games despite playing two overtimes in that span.
The Rams forced 13 turnovers and had five steals Thursday, matching their second-lowest totals of the season in both categories. Theus had no steals and one assist after totaling eight and 18, respectively, in the previous two games.
"Coach has been telling us all week, `Don't get comfortable with success," Theus said. "We got slapped in the face (by Richmond)."
VCU could have another tough time against a La Salle team that stopped No. 9 Butler's 13-game winning streak Wednesday when Ramon Galloway hit the game-winner with 2.7 seconds left in a 54-53 victory.
It was the Explorers' first win over a top 10 opponent since defeating No. 8 Notre Dame 62-60 on Jan. 30, 1980.
"It was a dramatic win for our players, our fans, our students. It was awesome," coach John Giannini said. "But am I going to tell you I'm shocked that we won? Absolutely not."
While La Salle improved to 9-1 at home, it hasn't been able to match that success in road games with losses in four of the last five - including three straight.
The Explorers averaged 62.3 points on 36.1 percent shooting during that skid on the road. They now must keep pace with a VCU team ranked 10th nationally in scoring (79.0 ppg) after averaging 84.3 over its last nine.
Top scorers Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic continue to carry the load for the Rams. Graham has averaged 20.0 points and hit 10 for 19 from beyond the arc over the past three games, a span during which Reddic has scored 17.0 per game on 21-of-28 shooting while averaging 11.0 rebounds.
Galloway leads the Explorers with 16.4 points per game and 50 3-pointers. He's also among the Division I leaders with 2.4 steals per contest.
This is the first meeting between the teams since VCU's 63-52 home victory Dec. 18, 2004.
Updated January 25, 2013