The VCU men’s basketball team (2-0) won a close contest at John Paul Jones arena Tuesday night against the University of Virginia Cavaliers by a score of 59-56. The meeting between the two Virginia schools was the first since 1998.
Junior guard Treveon Graham led all scorers with 22 points, and capped the Rams’ 10-0 run late in the second half with a long three-point shot, which broke 56-56 tie with 1.1 seconds left in the game to stun the Cavaliers at home.
Senior forward Juvonte Reddic was the next-highest scorer for the rams with nine points. Reddic found himself in foul trouble early in the second half after picking up three personals and was forced to sit for a considerable portion of the contest.
Redshirt freshman forward Mo Alie-Cox and Junior forward Jarred Guest came into the game to help support redshirt senior forward Terrance Shannon in the frontcourt. Shannon contributed three points and one assist for the rams.
The pace of the game favored U.Va., who was able to slow the Rams’ up-tempo style of play for much of regulation. However, the Rams’ havoc defense eventually caused trouble for a Cavaliers offense that turned the ball over 19 times on the night. The Rams are 29-1 when accumulating more than 15 steals per game.
Free throws were a huge factor as both teams entered the double bonus early in the first half. VCU had 15 fouls with seven players in early foul trouble, while the Cavs had 12 fouls with four players in foul trouble. U.Va. finished the game 19-33 (58 percent) from the free throw line while VCU shot just 6-15 (40 percent) from the charity stripe.
The Rams’ main contributors off the bench included redshirt freshman guard Jordan Burgess, true freshman guard JeQuan Lewis and sophomore guard Melvin Johnson. The trio combined for a total 14 points on the night.
The win was the Rams’ second true road victory against a top-25 opponent. The only other win came against the University of Louisville in 1994.
The victory over the Cavaliers was head coach Shaka Smart’s third win against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. He is now 3-2 against the ACC in his career.
Smart’s Rams will have at least three more chances against ACC opponents in 2013-14 as they face off against Florida State University in the Puerto Rico tip-off on Nov. 21, Virginia Tech at the Richmond Coliseum for the Governor’s Classic on Dec. 21, and Boston College at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York on Dec. 28.
VCU’s next matchup comes Saturday, Nov. 16 against Winthrop University at the Siegel Center.