RICHMOND, Va. -- Briante Weber didn't even have to think about it before he had an answer.
"The whole second half was wrong," he said Friday night after No. 14 VCU beat Illinois State 96-58, coasting through the second half after a near-perfect opening 20 minutes that sent them to the locker room with a 52-22 lead.
The Rams won the second half, too, 44-30, but "let up a little bit," the point guard said.
It was still never much of a game, causing Illinois State coach Dan Muller to apologize.
"Honestly I feel bad that we didn't give them much more of a game," he said, crediting Rams coach Shaka Smart and his staff for having his team, ranked to start the season for the first time, ready. "We didn't do much for his team's preparation."
Transfer Terrance Shannon and Treveon Graham led VCU with 14 points each, Juvonte Reddic had 13 and eight rebounds and the Rams used a 33-7 first-half run to take command in the season opener for both teams.
For Reddic, having Shannon as a complementary offensive weapon down low was a revelation.
"It takes a load off me," he said. "In the past we didn't really have a really good frontcourt, and now we do," he said. "In the past, I used to get double-teamed. Now it's not just one guy they've got to guard in the frontcourt. It's two."
The Rams led 9-4 when Reddic started the suspense-ending blitz with a dunk off a feed from Rob Brandenburg. He scored six in the run, and the burst later included 3-pointers from five Rams, three in a span of just 47 seconds by Melvin Johnson.
With things going so well and Smart using a rotation of 11, the Rams didn't maintain their intensity after halftime.
"It's understandable," Smart said. "It's not acceptable."
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. Mullen called it "a baptism into college basketball for a lot of these guys."
Knight started one day after pleading guilty to punching a woman and resisting arrest, and was jeered all night.
"We warned him, just in case," Muller said of the chants directed at him. "He certainly didn't play well."
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 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 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.
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