Atlantic 10 Tournament: VCU rolls into A-10 semifinals

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Meeting for the third time this season, rivals Richmond and VCU played in Friday’s Atlantic 10 quarterfinals with the winner advancing to Saturday’s semifinal round. And as was the case in the two regular season meetings the Rams controlled the flow of the game, racing out to a 16-point halftime lead in a game they would go on to win by the final score of 71-53.

VCU “only” forced 14 Richmond turnovers, five fewer than their average on the season, but the Rams made the Spiders pay for those mistakes. VCU scored 21 points off of those turnovers, and that along with their domination on the glass led to the comfortable margin of victory. VCU rebounded 47.6% of its missed shots with Mo Alie-Cox, Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic grabbing four offensive rebounds apiece, and those 20 offensive rebounds were converted into 22 second-chance points.

Briante Weber played just 18 minutes but still led three Rams in double figures with 18 points, and he was also one of the players given the task of harassing Richmond guard Kendall Anthony. Anthony, who scored 31 points in the first meeting between the two teams, scored just seven points on 2-for-15 shooting in Brooklyn. Next up for VCU is the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between George Washington and UMass.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)