10th-ranked Rams butt heads with Seminoles

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Updated: 11/21/2013 11:03 am

San Juan, PR (SportsNetwork.com) - Two undefeated teams collide in the opening round of the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Thursday, as 10th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth clashes with the Florida State Seminoles at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente.

The winner of this matchup will take on either Long Beach State of Michigan in second round action on Friday.

Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles are off to another fast start, as they have opened the campaign with three straight double-digit wins over the likes of Jacksonville (91-67), UCF (80-68) and most recently UT-Martin (89-61). FSU is no stranger to in-season tournament success with four titles on Hamilton's watch, the last the 2012-13 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Shaka Smart's Rams certainly know a thing or two about navigating a tournament field. VCU is one of the nation's premier mid-majors and moving into the Atlantic 10 has done nothing to change that. VCU is currently ranked in the top 10 for the first time in school history and has looked justified with lopsided home victories over Illinois State (96-58) and Winthrop (92-71) sandwiched around a road win over a Top 25 Virginia squad (59-56).

This is just the second all-time meeting between these two teams. The first took place in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, as VCU claimed a thrilling 72-71 victory in the Sweet 16 in San Antonio, en route to a Final Four appearance.

While the Seminoles have long been a defensive-minded squad under Hamilton, this season may be a little different. Florida State has gone over 80 points in all three games thus far and is averaging 86.7 ppg on a sizzling .537 shooting percentage. The team has not abandoned its defensive principles either, with foes averaging just 65.3 ppg on under 40 percent shooting (.385). Scoring depth is apparent, with four players currently in double figures, led by forward Okaro White's 16.0 ppg. Guards Ian Miller and Devon Bookert are tied for second on the team with 15.3 ppg each. Guard Aaron Thomas (12.7 ppg) adds more scoring punch off the bench.

Miller put on an offensive clinic in FSU's rout of UT-Martin, as he went a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the free-throw line to finish with a career-high 20 points. Three others joined Miller in double figures, as Thomas poured in 19 points, while White and Bookert tacked on 17 and 13 points, respectively. Florida State shot an impressive .587 from the floor, including .454 from behind the arc.

VCU has already shown that it can adapt to whatever an opponent throws at it. The Rams have put up eye-popping offensive numbers in wins over Illinois State and Winthrop, while beating the defensive-minded Cavaliers at their own game in Charlottesville. The early results have the Rams boasting of a +20.7 scoring margin, averaging 82.3 ppg, while allowing just 61.7. Treveon Graham leads the team in scoring with 16.7 ppg. He is followed by forward Juvonte Reddic (11.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and fellow guard Rob Brandenberg (10.0 ppg). Point guard Briante Weber is just under double-digit scoring (9.7 ppg), but is the team's top distributor, doling out 4.7 apg.

Winthrop hung tough with VCU in the first half, but the Rams pulled away after the break to earn the 21-point victory. Six Rams notched double digits in the win, led by Weber's 16 points. Graham recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Brandenberg, Reddic and JeQuan Lewis all chipped in with 11 points, while Mo Alie-Cox finished with 10. VCU distanced itself in the game by outscoring the Eagles 34-17 at the free-throw line.

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