#25 Virginia Commonwealth University surrendered a dominant lead but still outpaced Massachusetts 78-72 Saturday afternoon in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
With 12:44 remaining, Jabarie Hinds hit a jump shot to cap off a 12-0 UMass run while giving the Minutemen an improbable 48-47 lead. Earlier, it took UMass more than five minutes to score its first points of the afternoon and they trailed VCU 27-11 in the first half, but aggressive play and free-throws quickly closed the gap.
On the next play Jordan Burgess drained a 3-pointer. Then Mo Alie-Cox took over in a way unseen during his still young career. In addition to several ball-deflating blocks, Alie-Cox jammed a pair of impressive dunks including an and-1 en route to 8 points on 3-of-3 shooting in the second half.
UMass would mount a furious comeback as the Rams missed a handful of free-throws but a Melvin Johnson 3-pointer with 3:23 remaining and 4-of-4 free-throw shooting from the struggling guard sealed the victory.
Treveon Graham finished with 24 points (2-10 2PFG, 3-4 3PFG, 11-13 FT), 10 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 block, and 1 steal. JeQuan Lewis added 13 points (5-7 2PFG, 1-4 3PFG, 2-4 FTs), 3 assists, 3 steals, and 3 turnovers.
VCU moves to 21-6 and 11-3, and maintains its grip on first place. On Saturday, Dayton lost to Duquesne which reduces the once four-way tie for first place to a two-way tie between VCU and Rhode Island.
The Rowdy Rams and VCU Peppas have burned a few teams with fake shot-clock countdowns this season, but they took it to the next level on Saturday. In the first half, fans in “The Stu” psyched-out the Minutemen and the refs.
Top performer: Mo Alie-Cox
12 points (5-6 2PFG, 2-3 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal
Treveon Graham posted a gaudy stat line and JeQuan Lewis was sensational at times, but Mo Alie-Cox took over the game when the Rams needed it the most. After his blocks, checking the PSI of the balls may have a been a good idea in order to avoid deflate gate 2.0 and his dunks tested the structural integrity of the baskets.
Furthermore, Mo Alie-Cox wasn’t picking on some mid-major team without bigs. Cady Lalanne and Maxie Esho combine to make one of the better defensive front-courts in the conference. Mo Alie-Cox has the tools to be one of the best players on the team, when he plays like this, VCU is much better for it.
- Treveon Graham passed Charles Wilkins to move into 3rd place all-time at VCU in scoring with 1,739 points.
- Mo Alie-Cox has 37 blocks in conference play including 16 blocks in the last five games.
- Treveon Graham is drawing 7 fouls per 40 minutes in conference play.
- VCU and UMass combined for 32 turnovers and 46 personal fouls.
- Mo ALie-Cox, Justin Tillman, and Michael Gilmore are 69-of-116 (.595) from 2-point range in conference play.
VCU travels to crosstown-rival University of Richmond on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM. The Spiders topped the Rams 64-55 on January 31st in the Stuart C. Siegel Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2/U.
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