RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Commonwealth's identity under coach Shaka Smart has been as a team that wins off forcing turnovers and converting them into points.
In Friday night's season opener at the Siegel Center, the Rams blew out Illinois State because they simply couldn't miss a shot. Making 22-of-32 field goals in a wildly efficient first half, No. 14 VCU led 48-12 at one point en route to a 96-58 victory.
Guard Treveon Graham and forward Terrance Shannon each scored 14 points to pace the Rams, while forward Juvonte Reddic added 13 points and eight rebounds. Guard Rob Brandenburg chipped in 12 points, while guard Melvin Johnson scored 11, nine in a 48-second span midway through the first half on 3-pointers to extend an already huge lead to 35-8.
Guard Briante Weber contributed nine points and eight assists for VCU, which finished the night at 55.4 percent from the field and drew assists on 26 of their 36 field goals.
Not to be left out, the Rams' vaunted pressure defense forced 22 turnovers from the Redbirds and converted them into 24 points. Illinois State converted just 6-of-29 field goals in the first half, trailing by 52-22 at intermission.
Guard Zach Lofton, one of five new starters for the rebuilding Redbirds, was their only double-figure scorer with 12 points.
Both teams play again on Tuesday night. VCU makes the short trip to 24th-ranked Virginia, while Illinois State hosts Drexel.