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2017-2018 NBC Sports College Basketball Preseason All-American Teams

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Today, we are rolling out the NBC Sports Preseason All-American teams.

Here is how the teams were picked: Each of the four writers for College Basketball Talk submitted their all-american teams.

The votes were then tallied, players were slotted into their spot and the teams were made.

One thing that is worth noting here: We did not build these teams based on the positions that the players play.

It worked out that we did not end up with any teams that had five point guards or four centers and a power forward – we wanted them to at least look like something you could talk yourself being into a starting five – but there was no effort to make sure we had a point guard, a shooting guard, a center, etc.

Anyway, I’m sure there are plenty of you that are going to disagree with who was named or where they were placed.

So without further ado, here is the NBC Sports Preseason All-American Team.


Grayson Allen and Devonte’ Graham (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA

DEVONTÉ GRAHAM, Kansas, Sr.: Graham spent the first three years of his Kansas career playing off the ball as Frank Mason III went from forgotten recruit in a class that included Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins to the NBC Sports. National Player of the Year as a senior last season. Those are the shoes that Graham is going to be asked to fill this year, and it’s not going to be easy.

But the 6-foot-1 senior has been a playmaker during college, even if he wasn’t the primary ball-handler for Kansas. He was recruited as a point guard and ranked as a four-star prospect as a point guard. I’ve always believed that being a point guard was as much a mindset as it was a skill-set, and I don’t think that mind-set goes away playing a different position for a few years. If anything, Graham’s ability to thrive in what was almost a 3-and-D role alongside Mason should make you more impressed with him as a player, not concerned about what he’ll be as a point guard.

GRAYSON ALLEN, Duke, Sr.: Go ahead. Scoff away. I know you want to. But these are the facts: As a sophomore, Allen was a second-team NBC Sports all-american, and we were far from the only ones to view him that way. As a junior, Allen was the NBC Sports Preseason National Player of the Year – again, we were far from the only ones that picked him – before he spent the season battling ankle issues and dealing with the fallout from his inability to stop tripping people. He had offseason surgery on the ankle, and he’s now healthy, according to Mike Krzyzewski.

If Allen didn’t have all the baggage – a big if, I know – there would be nothing controversial about this take. As it stands, I’m sure we will hear more about putting Allen on the first team than we do about all of the other players on this list, combined.

RELATED: A Different Shade Of Grayson
Michael Porter Jr., Missouri Athletics

ALLONZO TRIER, Arizona, Jr.: Despite missing the first 19 games of the 2016-17 season, Trier ended up last season as Arizona’s most dangerous scorer and go-to guy down the stretch of the year. He’ll almost assuredly end up being the focal point of the Arizona attack this year if, for no other reason than the simple fact that he may end up being the best scorer in college hoops next season. When you have a guy that could end up averaging 20 points for a team that is arguably the best team in the country, he gets named first-team all-american.

MILES BRIDGES, Michigan State, So.: Bridges is the NBC Sports Preseason National Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He’s a sensational talent, one of college basketball’s most thrilling athletes and a guy that surprised many with his decision to forego the NBA Draft and return for his sophomore season. His presence is one of the biggest reasons that the Spartans are my pick to win the national title.

RELATED: The Enigma of ‘Weirdo’ Miles Bridges

MICHAEL PORTER JR., Missouri, Fr.: Porter is probably the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft at this point. A 6-foot-10 wing that can play on the perimeter offensively and can guard fours, he is, quite literally, the personification of the evolution of basketball. Playing on a Missouri team that does not have a great supporting cast for him, there are a couple of factors that could end up impacting just how good his season is. The obvious question is going to be what position he plays. Porter is probably built to be a small-ball four or five at the college level, but he will likely end up playing the three this season.

The other question is going to be whether or not the Tigers are relevant nationally. I could see them being good enough to get a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament, but I don’t think it would be crazy to predict them to be a bottom-half of the SEC team, one that misses the NCAA tournament the same way that Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz missed the NCAA tournament. If Missouri is an NIT team, Porter likely won’t end up being a first-team all-american in March.

RELATED: All In The Family – The Porter Package Deal

Miles Bridges (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICA

JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova, Jr.: This is Brunson’s year to become the star of a Villanova team that may never stop winning Big East titles. For stretches of last season, he was the best player for the Wildcats despite sharing the floor with first-team all-american Josh Hart. Brunson is everything a coach looks for in a point guard, and his impact on a game goes far beyond what shows up in the box score … and he averaged 15 points and four assists last season.

TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier, Sr.: For the first two weekends of the 2017 NCAA tournament, Bluiett was arguably the best player in the country. Hell, when he wasn’t dealing with an ankle injury, he might have been the best player in the Big East last year. A 6-foot-7 scoring machine, this will be Bluiett’s team, and with a roster that has quite a bit of young, unproven talent, Bluiett will be the one tasked carrying them for long stretches of the year. If Xavier pushes Villanova for a Big East title, he will be why.

BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame, Sr.: Bonzie Colson is a walking bucket. Standing 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Colson could not be a more perfect fit for Mike Brey’s small-ball offense. He’s borderline impossible to stop one-on-one, he’s unselfish and his length allows him to play as a five despite standing just 6-foot-5. After averaging 18 points and 10 boards as a junior, Colson should no longer be a secret.

ETHAN HAPP, Wisconsin, Jr.: Happ has developed into one of the nation’s best big men, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. Offensively, his ability to score in the paint and pass the ball out of the post allows Wisconsin to run their offense through him. The big question with Happ is going to be his jump shot. He’s been more or less a non-shooter throughout his college career, but he’s spent the summer doing what he can to extend the range on his jumper. If he is making threes – and, frankly, free throws – this season, he may end up being the best all-around big man in college basketball.

ANGEL DELGADO, Seton Hall, Sr.: This may be the first name that college basketball fans don’t recognize, but you should. Delgado is the anchor for a Seton Hall team that should start the season ranked in the top 20 and could end up pushing Villanova and Xavier for the Big East title. A 6-foot-9 native of the Domincan Republic, Delgado was one of the toughest and most productive big men in the country last season, averaging 16 points and 14 boards in Big East play as a junior.


Joel Berry II (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICA

JOEL BERRY II, North Carolina, Sr.: The reigning Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Berry is the star leftover after Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley headed off to the NBA. We judge point guards on wins, and Berry’s led the Tar Heels to a 66-14 record the last two seasons which included a national title, a final-second loss in the national title game, two outright ACC regular season titles and an ACC tournament title. He’ll be asked to carry much more of the load this season.

RELATED: The origin of Joel Berry’s ‘Believe’ tattoo led to UNC’s redemptive title

BRUCE BROWN, Miami, So.: Brown is one of the nation’s best-kept secrets. He’s a powerfully-athletic, 6-foot-3 combo-guard that has added consistency to his jump shot throughout his time in Coral Gables. He should be one of the best two-way guards in college basketball for a Miami team that will give Duke and Louisville a fight for the ACC regular season title this year. Remember the name. It’s a pretty safe bet to come up again during June’s NBA Draft.

ROBERT WILLIAMS, Texas A&M, So.: The man known as Big Bob Williams – at least around these parts – shocked many when he opted to return to college for his sophomore season. Williams was something of an unknown, at least compared to the stars of the 2016 recruiting class, coming out of high school, but he quickly caught the attention of NBA folks that saw the 6-foot-10 athletic freak play. He told NBC Sports this summer that the hope of adding perimeter skill to his offensive repertoire drove his decision to return.

RELATED: Small-town star Robert Williams on his decision to skip the NBA Draft

DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona, Fr.: Ayton is going to be a fascinating player to watch this season. On the one hand, he has all the physical tools to make him the perfect prospect for the new era of basketball. He’s 7-foot with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, he has perimeter skills and a low post game, he makes threes, he protects the rim and he’s athletic and mobile enough to handle his own defending on the perimeter. He’s a perfect small-ball five. He also has major question marks about his motor. He looked somewhere between bored and lazy for large parts of his high school tenure, but when he turned it on, he was near-unstoppable. Which one shows up for Arizona this year may determine who the No. 1 pick is in the 2018 NBA Draft, and it also could end up being who is the 2018 college basketball national champion.

MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke, Fr.: Bagley, like Ayton, is going to be another fascinating test-case. As a 6-foot-11 left-hander, Bagley is a sensational prospect with the tools to be a new-age big man. He’s very much in the mix for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. But he also played in the high school and AAU ranks this past winter and summer, only deciding in April to make a run at getting eligible for the 2017-18 season. (He did.) He also put together a very disappointing 5-16 run through the EYBL season, which is not exactly awe-inspiring for a guy that was a year older than his competition. His fit within this Duke roster is, on paper, excellent, but this is a very young Duke team with a lot of guys accustomed to being superstars.


Marvin Bagley III (Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics)

FOURTH TEAM ALL-AMERICA

COLLIN SEXTON, Alabama, Fr.: Sexton is going to be one of the more intriguing players to watch this season. At 6-foot-1, he was one of the best scorers in the high school ranks last year. His addition to an Alabama team that is elite defensively and struggles to score is a match made in heaven … assuming that Sexton’s ability to score translates.

RELATED: Making a five-star – Collin Sexton’s sudden rise to Team USA MVP

JEVON CARTER, West Virginia, Sr.: You may only remember him for the hero-ball he played at the end of a loss to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, but Carter might very well end up being the Big 12 Player of the Year this season. Not only is he the best perimeter defender on this Press Virginia team, but he’s also the leading scorer for a group that can, at times struggle to get things together offensively.

CHIMEZIE METU, USC, Jr.: Metu is probably the best NBA prospect on a USC roster that is one of the most talented in the country. He doubled his production as a sophomore, but the next step this season will be to add a consistent perimeter shot to his arsenal.

JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s, Sr.: How about this for a sentence: Jock Landale does not only project as the favorite to win the WCC Player of the Year award, it looks like he might end up doing that for the WCC champs. He doesn’t play for Gonzaga. Randy Bennett has done an incredible job with big, skilled land warriors, with Landale following in the footsteps of Omar Samhan and Brad Waldow.

MO BAMBA, Texas, Fr.: Bamba is going to be one of those guys whose impact goes well beyond what you see in the box score. One of the best front court defensive prospects we’ve seen come through college hoops in years, Bamba will provide a level of rim protection that will allow Shaka Smart’s team to gamble on the perimeter more than they have in the past.

RELATED: Mo Bamba’s mind is as bright as his hoops future

Jevon Carter (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

HONORABLE MENTION ALL-AMERICA

KEVAUGHN ALLEN, Florida, Jr.: Allen is something of a boom-or-bust talent. Take the NCAA tournament last season, for example: he had 11 points on 3-for-21 shooting in the first weekend combined, then popped off for 35 points against Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.

MIKE DAUM, South Dakota State, Jr.: The leading returning scorer in college basketball, Daum is the rare future NBA Draft pick residing in the Summit League. How many 6-foot-9 guys do you know that average 25 points and shoot 42 percent from three?

TYLER DAVIS, Texas A&M, Jr.: There are defensive question marks with Davis, but I’m not sure there is a stronger player in college basketball. He and Big Bob Williams make up arguably the best front court in college basketball.

KEVIN KNOX, Kentucky, Fr.: Kentucky has a roster loaded with talented role players, but I’m not sure there is a star anywhere on this roster. Knox might be the closest we see to one this season.

YANTE MATEN, Georgia, Sr.: Maten is one of college basketball’s hidden gems. He might be one of the five best post players in the country, yet his presence on the Georgia roster keeps him out of view from the masses.

JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN, USC, Sr.: USC has a half-dozen players on their roster that will likely find a way to make an NBA roster at some point. I’m not sure McLaughlin is one of them, but he is arguably the most important player on the Trojan roster, one of the biggest reason they’re a preseason top ten team.

LANDRY SHAMET, Wichita State, So.: Shamet would have been a third- or fourth-team all-american this year if there was more clarity about the foot injury he’s currently dealing with.

REID TRAVIS, Stanford, Jr.: When he’s been healthy, Travis has been one of the most productive big men in college basketball the last three years. He’s also missed 35 games in a three-year career that already includes one medical redshirt.

Wednesday’s Things to Know: Buckeye guards star, Marquette comes back and LSU loses to VCU

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There were top-25 teams in action, the Gavitt Games rolled on and there was something of an awkward homecoming in Richmond.

Here are the most important things you need to know from the action around the country Wednesday.

Ohio State’s guards can elevate the Buckeyes

When we talk about Ohio State, we inevitably start with the Buckeyes’ frontcourt. And with good reason. Kaleb Wesson is a hulking 6-foot-9, 270-pound throwback double-double machine. He’s the type of player we just don’t see as often anymore up front, and as such, few teams have a true counter for him.

What we saw Wednesday in the Buckeyes’ 76-51 dismantling of Villanova, though, was that Chris Holtmann’s guards might hold the key to success in Columbus this season. If nothing else, they certainly opened a lot of eyes against the Wildcats.

Duane Washington Jr (14), Luther Muhammad (11), D.J. Carter (11) and CJ Walker (10) all scored in double-figures while Walker had seven assists, Washington had five rebounds and Carton had five rebounds and five assists. That’s on top of Wesson doing Wesson things like recording 10 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and three assists.

If the Buckeyes’ guards can give them this kind of production, it’s really not much of a leap to consider this team a serious threat to Michigan State in the Big Ten, and maybe even a bigger contender nationally than we’ve given them credit for this preseason. The team that took apart Villanova on Wednesday night looked like a team that could make it to Atlanta in April. It was that complete a performance.

It’s easy to draw a line from this Ohio State performance against Villanova to Michigan’s last year against Jay Wright’s team, which took a 27-point L to John Beilein last November. The ‘Cats ultimately bounced back and found their stride, but that lopsided result probably said more about how good that Wolverines team was as they eventually went on to secure a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament.

Can the Buckeyes replicate that path? That question is probably best answered with another – can their guards replicate the night they had against Villanova?

Marquette erases 18-point deficit to beat Purdue

Marquette is one of the country’s biggest question marks. There were a few fleeting moments last spring when they looked like a national title contender when Markus Howard decided to return to school, but the Golden Eagles were flung into the “mystery” category after the Hauser brothers decided to bolt, leaving Marquette with an interesting albeit uncertain roster.

Steve Wojciechowski’s team looked like it answered some questions Wednesday, coming from 18 behind to defeat Purdue, 65-55, in Milwaukee.

Howard was his dynamic self with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists on 6 of 12 shooting, but it was the play of Kobe McEwen that is perhaps the most promising. The Utah State transfer went for 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal to help Marquette claw back and win the game.

Marquette needs McEwen to be that productive this season as an offensive second option as defenses do everything they can to try to bottle up Howard. If McEwen can not only be a viable No. 2 but make teams truly pay for throwing the kitchen sink at Howard defensively, Marquette can be closer to that upper-echelon Big East team we thought they might be last spring rather than the enigma they became this summer.

Purdue, meanwhile, saw its offense implode, shooting 33.9 percent from the floor and 25 percent from 3-point range. Given the departures from last year’s team, offense is understandably a work in progress, though that progression looked stalled in a second half in which Matt Painter’s team scored just 17 points – while buckling defensively, giving up 40 to Marquette.

Will Wade loses to his former school

As a program that sends many of its coaches on to bigger stages and brighter lights, VCU has figured out quite a few ways to make their status as a stepping stone to their advantage. First off, it’s an attractive job for talented coaches because of the track record. A smaller, but interesting, way the Rams have maneuvered is to work into the coaches’ contract that if they leave for another gig, they have to bring that team back to Richmond.

That’s why LSU and Will Wade were in town Wednesday, taking a 84-82 loss. If they hadn’t, Wade would have owed VCU $250,000.

That bit of info turned out to be at least a little funny, given that a few VCU students dressed up as FBI agents as an allusion to reports that Wade was caught on a wiretap discussing a “strong-ass offer” to a recruit as part of the federal government’s investigation into corruption into college basketball.

Here’s guessing Wade and LSU get plenty of this treatment throughout the season, though it’s probably worth noting the Tigers made it to the Sweet 16 last year amid the controversy and Wade hasn’t missed a beat on the recruiting trail – they inked five-star Trendon Watford last May – so whatever lingering controversy there may be probably isn’t going to be too bothersome to them.

No. 11 Texas Tech rolls To 103-74 win over Houston Baptist

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MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech coach Chris Beard called a timeout after his No. 11 Red Raiders, playing at a neutral site about 120 miles from their campus, had three turnovers without getting off a shot and quickly fell behind to Houston Baptist.

“Just upset with our start. I didn’t think we were being aggressive,” Beard said, after initially joking that he asked his players where they wanted to eat after the game.

“I’m OK if you start the game and have some adversity. I’m OK if you start the game and the ball doesn’t go in when you shoot,” he said. “I didn’t like our energy. I didn’t like our execution of our early game plan.”

The Red Raiders responded with 14 points in a row, going ahead to stay on the way to a 103-74 victory Wednesday night.

Freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey scored 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting and graduate transfer TJ Holyfield had 21 points on 9-of-10 field goals. Kyler Edwards added 13 points with three 3-pointers while Davide Moretti scored 12 points and had six assists.

“My teammates are doing a great job of getting me the ball in scoring position,” Ramsey said. “I believe the chemistry is really high right now. … Everybody connects on and off the floor. It’s a great start.”

Jalon Gates had 21 points with five 3-pointers to lead Houston Baptist. Ian DuBose added 20 points.

Texas Tech shot 60% overall (40 of 67) and made its first four field goals in the game, but only after the early turnovers while Houston Baptist (0-3) jumped out to a 9-0 lead in just over two minutes. After the timeout, the Red Raiders’ fourth field goal was a layup by Ramsey that tied the game 9-9 with 16:18 left, and they went ahead to stay on a 3-pointer by Edwards.

“Just reminded the guys with our truth-telling culture, ‘This is where we’re at. This is where we have to go.’ I think on the flip side to that there’s some positive, though, to respond that quickly,” Beard said. “As disappointed as we were in our start, we were positive on the fact that we showed that bounce-back.”

Ramsey had 20 of his points by halftime, when Texas Tech led 54-39.

PERMIAN STRONG

The game was played inside Midland College’s Chaparral Center, marking Texas Tech’s first regular season game in the Permian Basin since 1951.

Texas Tech players wore “Permian Basin Strong” shirts during pregame warmups prior to tipoff to honor and remember those affected by an August 31 shooting spree.

A gunman killed seven people and injured about two dozen more while firing indiscriminately from his car into passing vehicles and shopping plazas in Odessa and Midland, the two biggest cities in the Permian Basin. The shooter, who was killed by officers, also hijacked a U.S. Postal Service mail truck, killing the driver.

“We were really pleased and proud that we put this game together,” Beard said. “To play this game in Midland for the Permian Basin fans is special.”

BIG ASSIST

Chris Clarke, the other grad transfer, had four points and nine assists and seems to be filling the role as Tech’s sixth man.

“He’s a skilled player. He’s a position-less basketball player,” Beard said. “He’s just an unselfish guy. He’s a guy who’s trying to win the possession. … There will be days sooner rather than later where he’s our leading scorer as well. He’s a guy that can play the game.”

BIG PICTURE

Houston Baptist: The aggressiveness by Houston Baptist inside the paint forced the Red Raiders into foul trouble. The winless Huskies playing tough opponents early on will help them down the road in the Southland Conference.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders’ defense was put to the test against the Huskies, who made their first four shots. Quick adjustments and getting their legs underneath them on offense helped lead them to victory. The Red Raiders did score 56 points in the paint.

UP NEXT

Houston Baptist plays the third of six consecutive games away from campus to start the season, Nov. 22 at Michigan.

Texas Tech is back home Nov. 21 against Tennessee State.

Nwora leads No. 4 Louisville past Indiana State 91-62

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Jordan Nwora scored 21 points, Dwayne Sutton added 14 and No. 4 Louisville shot 59% from the field to run past Indiana State 91-62 on Wednesday night.

Two days after moving up a spot in the AP Top 25, the Cardinals (3-0) made 14 of their first 17 shots for a 16-point lead through 11 minutes on the way to a 47-26 advantage at the break. Nwora’s 14 points, including a pair of 3s got Louisville going, and Sutton had 10 before the break.

Nwora, a junior forward, finished 5 of 10 shooting for his third consecutive game of 20 points or more. Sutton and Steven Enoch each grabbed 10 rebounds as Louisville owned the glass 42-21. The Cardinals shot above 50% for the third consecutive game.

Tyreke Key led the Sycamores (0-2) with 20 points including four 3-pointers, two of which came during a 14-2 early second-half run that got them within 51-40. They got no closer as Louisville quickly answered to stretch the lead above 20 as it shot 58% in the final 20 minutes.

Indiana State shot 34% in its only game this season against a Power Five opponent. The Sycamores haven’t beaten a ranked opponent since topping Butler 72-71 in December 2016.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana State: After making two of their first three baskets, the Sycamores were no match physically against Louisville’s taller lineup. Perimeter shooting was a bright spot as they extended their streak to 345 games with at least one 3-pointer.

Louisville: The Cardinals seemingly couldn’t miss at the start and stayed hot throughout. They never let up even after the outcome was settled.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Cardinals took a step toward remaining in the top five with another game to play this week.

UP NEXT

Indiana State faces Ball State on Sunday in Indianapolis.

Louisville hosts North Carolina Central on Sunday in the third of a four-game homestand.

Hot start helps No. 18 Ohio State rout No. 10 Villanova

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Duane Washington Jr. had 14 points and four other players scored in double figures as No. 18 Ohio State started hot and ran over No. 10 Villanova 76-51 on Wednesday night.

Washington opened the game with a pair of 3-pointers to set the tone as the Buckeyes moved to 3-0 with a significant early-season victory.

D.J. Carton and Luther Muhammad each had 11 points, and CJ Walker and Kaleb Wesson added 10 apiece.

Jermaine Samuels had 14 points and Cole Swider had 11 for the Wildcats (1-1), who shot poorly out of the gate and managed just 30.6% for the game. They were held to a dozen points in the first 16 minutes.

The Buckeyes came out firing, bolted to a 19-3 lead, led by as many as 27 and held a 40-22 advantage at the intermission of this Gavitt Tipoff Game, a November series that matches up the Big Ten and the Big East.

Villanova was stunned by the Buckeyes’ start and didn’t show signs of life until a 9-0 run late in the first half. Kyle Young started the second half with a dunk and the Buckeyes never backed off the gas, leading by as many as 30.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: Starting a pair of freshmen, Villanova shot poorly and could never catch up with the hustling Buckeyes. The crowd in Columbus chanted “overrated,” which could be the case.

Ohio State: Most everything was clicking in the Buckeyes’ third game of the season. If they can sustain it, they should be able to play with nearly any team in the country.

UP NEXT

Villanova: Hosts Ohio on Saturday.

Ohio State: Hosts Stetson on Monday.

Santos-Silva leads VCU past No. 23 LSU, 84-82, in Wade’s return

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RICHMOND, Va. — Marcus Santos-Silva had 17 points and 11 rebounds and VCU turned 26 turnovers by No. 23 LSU into 37 points in an 84-82 victory Wednesday night.

The Rams (3-0), whose contract with former coach Will 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.

VCU withstood a rally that saw the Tigers take their first lead of the half on two free throws by Skylar Mays with 41 second left.

The Tigers (1-1) had a chance after Santos-Silva made one of two free throws with 4.9 seconds left, but Mays raced up court and lost control of 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. Javinte 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 the game 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 before the Tigers rallied again, scoring 11 of the next 14 points and taking their first lead since the early going on a pair of free throws by Mays with 41 seconds remaining.

Jenkins, fouled on a 3-point try, 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 certainly made them believers, forcing 12 first-half takeaways and turning them into 24 points.

VCU: The Rams had trouble getting 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.

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.