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.
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.
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.