VCU-Saint Louis Preview
By JORDAN GARRETSON
(AP) -- Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Louis play almost entirely different brands of basketball, but each is experiencing plenty of success.
With sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 up for grabs, the 24th-ranked Rams and host Billikens put winning streaks on the line Tuesday night.
VCU, which is 7-1 on the road, has won five in a row overall while continuing to operate at a frenetic pace. The Rams (21-5, 9-2) are among the country's leaders with averages of 78.1 points and 63.0 shots, which leads the conference and ranks among the national top 10.
The Billikens (19-5, 8-2) have won seven straight and boast an elite defense, limiting opponents to 57.8 points per game. They average 51.3 field goals, second-to-last in the conference.
The Rams continue to force opponents into miscues and thrive off the results. They lead the nation in forced turnovers with 20.6 per game, 1.8 more than the next team.
VCU scored 27 points off 25 turnovers in an 84-57 win over George Washington on Saturday, the 12th time it's scored 80 or more points. Juvonte Reddic finished with a season-high 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting and added 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double in seven games.
The junior forward is the top rebounder in A-10 play at 9.5 per game.
"We were able to get Juvonte going early with some lobs and some easy ones," coach Shaka Smart said. "I love his stats with a double-double. ... It's a good thing, but I have such high expectations and know how good he can be that I thought he could've rebounded a little better. ... No doubt about it though, I'm sure glad he's on our team."
Each of the Billikens' last six wins have come by 10 or more points, including 76-58 at home against Charlotte on Saturday.
Saint Louis' bench, second in the conference averaging 24.5 points, outscored the team's starters 47-29. Cody Ellis has yet to start but is the Billikens' second-leading scorer at 11.5 points per game, and he had 18 against the 49ers.
Two other reserves scored in double figures, including a surprising career-high 13 points from Jake Barnett. Barnett, who had 12 points over his previous five games, hit 4 of 5 3-point attempts.
The Billikens knocked down 11 3s and are shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc over the last four games.
Saint Louis is 2-1 against ranked opponents, beating then-No. 20 New Mexico and then-No. 9 Butler by a combined 31 points.
This will be the teams' first meeting since the championship round of the 2010 College Basketball Invitational, when the Rams swept two games to take the title.
Updated February 18, 2013