Juvonte Reddic had 13 points and eight rebounds and No. 14 VCU used a 33-7 first-half run to take command on its way to a 96-58 victory over Illinois State on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Rams, ranked to start the season for the first time in program history, led 9-4 when Reddic started the suspense-ending blitz with a dunk off a feed from Rob Brandenburg. The burst included 3-pointers from five Rams, including three in a span of just 47 seconds by Melvin Johnson.
Transfer Terrance Shannon and Treveon Graham led the Rams with 14 points each.
The Redbirds, with 10 new players and only two on the roster with any Division I experience, looked very much like a team still getting familiar with each other. They committed a 10-second violation on their first possession, missed 15 of their first 16 shots and trailed 48-12 after 17 minutes.
Zach Lofton led Illinois State with 12 points.
VCU gave the crowd plenty more to cheer about right from the start. Reddic's dunk started the big run, and Graham scored on a putback and a 3-pointer. Two more baskets by Reddic followed, and then 3-pointers from freshman Doug Brooks and Briante Weber before Johnson hit three straight 3s to make it 35-8.
Shannon, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Florida State, had an immediate impact. He was fouled early on, making 1 of 2 free throws, then scored on a putback. Moments later he fed Reddic for one of two consecutive dunks and later blocked a shot.
VCU hit 7 of 11 3-point shots before intermission; the overmatched Redbirds were 6 for 29 from the field.
Illinois State, in its second season under coach Dan Muller, lost four players to graduation after last season, had four transfer and one dismissed from the program. Their new players include five junior college transfers and three freshmen.