RICHMOND, DEC. 27 -- A pair of road-weary teams and two others that had fared well until humbling losses in their most recent games comprise the field for the 15th-annual Richmond Times-Dispatch Invitational, beginning Friday at Richmond Coliseum.
James Madison and Virginia Commonwealth, both coming off dreadful western road trips, meet in the opening game at 7 p.m. Virginia Tech and Richmond follow, each trying to respond to recent one-sided losses.
The consolation and championship games are Saturday.
"All four teams are coming off losses," Virginia Tech Coach Frankie Allen said. "It's just a matter of who can get their kids in the right frame of mind, and then go out and execute."
The Hokies (4-2), 88-70 losers to George Washington last Saturday, already own narrow home victories over James Madison and Virginia Commonwealth. Senior forward Antony Moses heads a quartet of double-figure scorers with a 17.3 average, followed by sophomore guard Rod Wheeler (13.3), junior center Erik Wilson (11.5) and junior forward John Rivers (10.6, team-high 11.2 rebounds).
Richmond (5-2) won four straight before an 82-56 loss to Wake Forest on Saturday. Junior guard Curtis Blair averages 13.3 points, and senior forward Terry Connolly contributes nine points and 6.6 rebounds.
James Madison (3-4), coming into the tournament following road losses to Brigham Young and South Alabama, is led by Steve Hood's 20.4 points a game. But the Dukes are without their second-leading scorer, junior center Chancellor Nichols, who missed the team's last two practices because of a family illness.
"We're not playing well," James Madison Coach Lefty Dreisell said. "I think we're playing scared. That's what happens when you lose a few games."
Virginia Commonwealth (4-6) will be the tournament's most-fatigued squad, having arrived at 4 p.m. today from a 12-day road trip that concluded Wednesday with a 95-67 setback at Tulsa. Forward Eric Atkins, a junior transfer from San Jacinto (Tex.), averages 19 points a game.