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Santos-Silva, defense lead VCU past No. 23 LSU, 84-82

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Santos-Silva, defense lead VCU past No. 23 LSU, 84-82

RICHMOND, Va. -- Will Wade was concerned about turnovers before bringing No. 23 LSU to the Siegel Center, where he spent six seasons and watched VCU frustrate opponents with a frenetic pressing, trapping defensive style. He tried to prepare the Tigers for what they would face.

It didn't work.

"You can't simulate this," Wade said, gesturing toward the arena where the band is loud, the creative fans sit right on top of the court and the sellout streak has reached 137 games. "You can't simulate what they do, and they do it every night."

Former Wade recruit Marcus Santos-Silva had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and VCU turned 26 turnovers into 37 points in an 84-82 victory Wednesday night. The game ended, fittingly, with Skylar Mays losing control on a desperate drive for a tying basket.

"This is my fourth year of college basketball and this is No. 1," Mays said. "This is the toughest environment I've ever played in."

The Rams (3-0), whose contract with Wade mandated he bring his new team to the Siegel Center or have his school pay $250,000, improved to 5-2 against ranked opponents on their home court, and they did it after withstanding a furious rally at the finish.

The Tigers (1-1) took their first lead since early in the first half on two free throws by Mays with 41 seconds left.

"Sometimes you have to put your guts out on the court, make plays, figure it out, find a way," Rams coach Mike Rhoades said.

LSU had a chance after Santos-Silva made one of two free throws with 4.9 seconds left, but Mays lost the ball.

De'Riante Jenkins and Marcus Evans added 15 points each for VCU, which was outscored 46-30 in the paint.

Mays led the Tigers with 23 points, but also had seven turnovers. Javonte Smart added 15 points and Trendon Watford scored 11.

The Rams led for most of the game, but a 15-2 run by the Tigers -- despite a stretch of five turnovers in six possessions -- tied it at 67-all with 8:56 to go. The Rams responded with an 11-4 run started by Santos-Silva to lead 78-71 with 3:22 to play.

"We didn't have much of an answer for Santos-Silva down low," Wade said.

But the Tigers rallied again, scoring 11 of the next 14 points to take an 82-81 lead.

Jenkins, fouled on a 3-point try, then made two of three free throws, and the Tigers missed their final three field-goal tries.

BIG PICTURE

LSU: Wade said he was concerned about how much the Tigers turned the ball over in their opener against Bowling Green, surely with an eye toward the "havoc" style Rhoades has reintroduced at VCU. The Rams made them believers, forcing 12 first-half takeaways and turning them into 24 points.

VCU: The Rams had trouble getting the ball inside, but their 3-point shooting and defense bailed them out, especially during an 18-4 first-half run. In one sequence, Isaac Vann made a 3 for VCU, which then forced a turnover, leading to Evans' 3. The Tigers then turned it over again, leading to a 3 by Vince Williams. All in 53 seconds.

BLISTERING BURST

The Rams bought the crowd to its feet late in the first half with the 18-4 burst that allowed them to open a 48-33 lead.

It was something Wade -- who spent four seasons as an assistant under Shaka Smart and two as VCU's head coach before leaving for LSU in 2017 -- acknowledged having seen many times in the arena.

"It's usually better when you're on the other side," he said.

HE SAID IT

"Now I can go back to rooting for VCU." -- Wade, who was jeered and booed when he appeared on the court. Five Rams fans were dressed as FBI agents near the LSU bench, and others had fake money spilling out of their hats, a reference to last year when Wade was named in a Yahoo Sports report about excerpts of an FBI wiretap that captured the coach speaking with Christian Dawkins, who was convicted of funneling illegal payments to the families of college basketball recruits. Wade denied wrongdoing.

UP NEXT

The Tigers should have a much easier time in their next outing, at home against Nicholls on Saturday.

The Rams continue a six-game homestand to open the season, welcoming Jacksonville State on Sunday.

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Syracuse comes to DC with drama swirling around Hoyas

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Syracuse comes to DC with drama swirling around Hoyas

Georgetown's season has flipped on its head. A once-promising season is now muddled in controversy and the unknown of what the future has in store.

But, as the Hoyas continue to navigate their way through troubled waters, there is one constant that remains: playing Syracuse. 

The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry will enter it's 95th chapter on Saturday at Capital One Arena. One of the best rivalries in college basketball still burns despite how far apart the worlds of both teams are. 

Decades have come and gone - along with their once-great Big East conference - but once again Patrick Ewing is the leading face of the Hoyas and Jim Boeheim is coaching on the Orange's sideline. Both of whom are going through two of the toughest years during their time at their respective schools. 

Georgetown (6-3) is in the midst of turmoil within their program. Two of their top six players abruptly left the program in early December. One of which was their point guard, James Akinjo, the other was their sixth man off the bench, Josh LeBlanc. LeBlanc and two other current Hoyas are facing legal issues as they all have restraining orders from a Georgetown student. 

Despite the issues, the team has won two of their three biggest wins of the season since. Road wins over Oklahoma State and SMU gave Georgetown two top-100 KenPom victories that will go a long way for them in March. In Akinjo's absence, the current Big East Player of the Week Mac McClung has delivered masterful performances of 33 and 19 points respectively. 

Sputtering to a 5-4 (1-1 ACC) start, things have not been smooth for Syracuse either. All season the Orange have struggled to find their identity with no seniors and five freshmen on the roster. Their shooting has been inconsistent and ill-timed mistakes put them in early holes. Redshirt Junior Elijah Hughes and the coach's son Buddy Boddy Boeheim have provided most of the offense, accounting for 47% of their points this season. 

A rough start is not what Boeheim is accustomed to - before their win over Georgia Tech, 4-4 was their worst start in his 43-year tenure.

This won't be the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry of the 1980s or have the importance the games did in the late 2000s in the old Big East. But when the Blue and Orange take the court the intensity will be there for both sides. Ewing will be erratic on the Georgetown bench and Boeheim, well is Boeheim. The fanbases' disdain for one other will fill Capital One and all that energy should percolate down to the players. 

This is the final big test of each team's nonconference slate, but another chapter in the great rivalry.

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Army-Navy: Why the Midshipmen hold the edge and should snap Army's streak in Saturday's match-up

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Army-Navy: Why the Midshipmen hold the edge and should snap Army's streak in Saturday's match-up

The regular season isn’t over yet. There’s still one last piece of business to attend to and it may be the biggest game of the season. It’s time for Army-Navy.

This year will be the 120th meeting between these two storied rivals. While the bowl games have already been decided, there will be plenty on the line on Saturday besides just pride.

Here is everything you need to know for Army-Navy.

When: 3 p.m., Saturday
Where: Lincoln FInancial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
How to watch: CBS

A quick season recap

Navy enters this game ranked No. 23 in the final College Football Playoff rankings after earning a 9-2 record. They were in the running for the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bowl bid up until the final week before championship week when Memphis wrapped up the division. The Midshipmen’s lone blemishes on the season were a loss to the Tigers that, in the end, cost them the division and a one-sided defeat at the hands of Notre Dame. They will play the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 against Kansas State, the only team with a win over a playoff team this season.

This will be the final game of the season for Army who is 5-7 after last week’s loss to Hawaii. But wait, if Army wins this game, won’t they have six wins? Yes, but the rule for bowl eligibility is not technically not six wins, rather a team has to win 50-percent of its schedule which Army will not. It has not been a bad season for Army so much as it has been a frustrating one. SIx of their seven losses have been by single digits including a three-point loss to Michigan in the Big House.

Army has won the last three meetings

After Navy enjoyed a 14-game win streak against the Black Knights, the longest streak between the two rivals, Army has responded with three straight wins of its own. All three games had a margin of victory of seven points or less, the narrowest of which was a 14-13 win in 2017.

The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is on the line

The Commander-in-Chief Trophy is the rivalry trophy shared between the three service academies. Army is the current holder of the trophy, but they cannot win it outright after losing to Air Force earlier in the year. Navy beat Air Force which means they have a chance to reclaim it with a win over the Black Knights.

Navy currently has the longest drought as the Midshipmen have not won the trophy since 2015. Air Force last had it in 2016.

Should Army win on Saturday, the academies will be in a three-way tie and Army will retain the trophy as the current holder.

This game will feature the top two rushing offenses in the nation

Both Army and Navy run the option offense which means a whole lot of running and not much passing offense. When you rely that much on the ground game, you better be able to do it well and both of these teams do.

The Black Knights enter this game with the second-best rushing offense in the country with 311.7 yards per game. There is only one team that averages more and that team just so happens to be their opponent. Navy boasts 360.8 yards per game on the ground, easily the top rushing attack in the nation.

Army and Navy also rank 129th and 128th respectively in passing offense so there is no real distinct advantage there. Offensively, these teams appear to be about as even as you can be. The advantage then is on defense where Navy has the edge.

The MIdshipmen have held their opponents to 109.7 yards per game on the ground this season, the 17th best rush defense in the nation. Army’s defense ranks 52nd with 144.1 yards per game.

Both teams are going to look good

Here is a look at the uniforms for each team. Army really brought it with the video. Nice touch.

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