Treveon Graham heroics almost feel normal, but his performance despite injury on Tuesday night against Rhode Island was everything but.
Despite abysmal shooting and trailing most of the game, #17 Virginia Commonwealth University topped Rhode Island 65-60 Tuesday night thanks to the heroics of Treveon Graham.
The (good-guy) Rams struggled with fouls, were horrendous from 3-point range, and failed to capitalize in transition for most of the first half. A seven point deficit felt lucky heading into the locker room.
VCU remedied some of the issues in the second half, but the deficit swelled to 49-40, and VCU was 5-of-19 from 3-point range and 4-of-14 on free throws at one point.
Making matters worse, early in the second half TJ Buchanan landed on Treveon Graham as both dove after a loose ball. Graham screamed in pain as Jordan Burgess called for help without hesitation. Moments later Graham hobbled off the court under his own power.
After a few minutes behind the bench he returned a step slow, but used craftiness and his jump shot to fuel VCU’s anemic offense. With 5:35 remaining in the game, he knotted the score at 51. After a URI score, he hit the answer to tie it at 53. Finally, he hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining on the clock. He finished with 26 points and eight rebounds, including 16 second-half points and five rebounds in the final 5:01.
Rhode Island deserves credit for playing an aggressive and fearless game on both ends of the court. Sophomore E.C. Matthews, who has a shot at earning A-10 Player of the Year during his final two campaigns, scored 22 points; and sophomore Hassan Martin, who blocked 6 shots, was phenomenal on defense. Their young core gave HAVOC! its struggles and will certainly do so for the next two years, but VCU had answers. Sometimes HAVOC! only needs five minutes to change the outcome of a gritty game.
Briante Weber hit all four free-throws in the final minute to seal the victory. Mo Alie-Cox finished with 10 points (5-7 FG), three rebounds, and three blocks. Justin Tillman added four blocks. Melvin Johnson hit a crucial 3-pointer with 2:50 remaining. He finished with nine points (1-5 2PFG, 2-7 3PFG, 1-5 FTs) but had a tough shooting night. JeQuan Lewis finished with six assists.
Since the 2011 Final Four, two key achievements have eluded VCU: a conference title and a return to the Sweet 16. This is just one win and it’s premature to take too much away from it, but the win showed early season road grit that was noticeably lacking last season in a 76-66 road loss to George Washington, in 2013 in an 86-74 OT road loss to Richmond, and in 2012 in a 64-58 road loss to Drexel. With 14 challenging games to go, VCU is in sole possession of first place and joins Dayton (3-0) as one of two undefeated teams in A-10 play.
Top performer: Treveon Graham
26 points (6-9 2PFG, 4-8 3PFG), 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 3 turnovers
The timely plays and stat line speak for themselves, but they fail to even hint at the heroics of Treveon Graham. This was a tell your grandchildren about it type performance that should simply be remembered as “The Treveon Graham Game.”
This was far from the first time Graham put VCU on his back and willed the Rams to victory. It’s such a regular occurrence that it almost feels normal, but in reality it was anything but.
Graham’s legacy as one of the greatest and toughest to ever don the Black & Gold was set in stone prior to the tip, but his performance adds to the lore in a way only sports moments can. In addition to single-handedly beating UVA in John Paul Jones and carrying VCU to a double-overtime victory against La Salle with 34 points and 11 rebounds, fans will forever remember that Treveon Graham on one leg is still a winning machine and the best player in the conference.
- Record Watch: Treveon Graham passed Domonic Jones (1,616 points) and Calvin Duncan (1,630 points) to move into sixth place on VCU’s all-time scoring list.
- Record Watch: Treveon Graham moved to 699 career rebounds, which moves him to top-10 on VCU’s career rebounding list.
- Melvin Johnson missed more free throws (four of them) than he’s missed in every other game this season combined.
- VCU has won nine straight games. It’s their longest winning streak since winning 13 in a row during the 2012-13 season.
- Justin Tillman blocked four shots in 10 minutes of action. He has eight blocks over the last three games.
VCU moves on to game two of its three-game road trip on Saturday when the Rams visit Duquesne at 2:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
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