Recap: VCU tops UR and sweeps the Commonwealth

Despite trailing by as many as 11 points in the second half, Virginia Commonwealth University topped the University of Richmond 56-50 late Thursday night in the newly renovated Robins Center.

Despite trailing by as many as 11 points in the second half, Virginia Commonwealth University topped the University of Richmond 56-50 late Thursday night in the newly renovated Robins Center.


Energized by the rivalry and a touching senior night presentation for the injured Cedrick Lindsay, Kendall Anthony scored 5 quick points setting the tone for Richmond. The Spiders outplayed the Rams the entire first half but only possessed a 26-22 lead heading into the locker room.

VCU was primed to respond after surviving the emotional surge but an early 9-0 Richmond run gave the Spiders a 35-24 lead. VCU responded with an 8-0 run and a flurry of 3-pointers from Treveon Graham, Jordan Burgess, Melvin Johnson, and Rob Brandenberg to take the lead.

The way VCU approaches games, they often play even with teams for 35 minutes and use one of those signature runs to make up the difference. When things click, it’s tangible. Those runs can be felt in the air. Over that stretch, VCU missed a few free-throws and turned the ball over a few times, but they went 7-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

It’s amazing…When everything is clicking and we’re connected…it’s really hard to stop us. Treveon Graham

Midway through the second half Briante Weber picked up foul number four. Then after an incredible volume of good and bad plays, JeQuan Lewis picked up his fourth foul after an unlucky bounce of the basketball. The Rams responded.

In terms of wins and losses, VCU has underperformed preseason expectations, but they have played the most difficult road schedule in the conference and one of the most difficult schedules in the history of the program. Moving into the postseason, Coach Smart is confident, “we’re going to benefit from the lessons we’ve learned on the road both in victory and defeat.”

It was far from pretty but the Rams showed resolve. Rob Brandenberg played great second half defense on Kendall Anthony who finished with 20 points but ended up missing the rim more often than not in the second half, the Rams’ guards hit timely 3-pointers, and Treveon Graham showed he can get things done without Weber or Lewis on the court. These are all important lessons learned before hopping on the bus charter plane to Brooklyn.

History in the Making

Thursday was the first time Coach Smart ever won in the Robins Center, Briante Weber set the Atlantic 10 record for single-season steals at 109, and VCU became the first team in the history of the Commonwealth to beat UVA, Virginia Tech, GMU, ODU, and Richmond.

Nobody has ever won every game in a series between the six teams that probably would be thought of as the best teams in the state of Virginia. We don’t play for any type of state title, that’s not how things work, but nobody has ever done it. Whenever you have the chance to do something for the first time it means a lot.

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No one can argue this. These guys have done something that no one since basketball was first played in 1905 in the state of Virginia has ever done. Coach Smart

Top performer: Treveon Graham

35 minutes, 18 points (3-8 2PFG, 3-3 3PFG), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 steal

During the player intros in the Stuart C. Siegel Center, Treveon Graham looks into the camera and with the utmost nonchalance imageable says, “I’m Treveon Graham and I basically play all of the positions.” He’s not kidding.

Graham can defend the 1 through 5, he can shoot from range and score at the rim, he’s a solid rebounder, and he can run the point. On top of that he has the most understated killer instinct. It’s the unnerving casualness of Clint Eastwood asking “do you feel lucky” meet the stat-sheet stuffing heroics of Reggie Miller-Eight Points-Nine Seconds.

Play-by-plays from all of the Rams’ closest games are littered with his name. More importantly the guy is tough as nails and he’s unbelievably consistent. Early in the game Graham went down and woozily walked to the bench. After a brief respite, he responded by going 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, stepping up and running the point, and grabbing the game deciding rebound before hitting two free-throws.

5 stats

  • VCU had 4 assists and 9 turnovers in the first half. The Rams posted 9 assists and 6 turnovers in the second half despite the limited play of Weber and Lewis.
  • 56 is the fewest points scored by VCU all season and 50 is the second fewest scored against VCU all season.
  • Alonzo Nelson-Ododa scored 9 important points in the first half including a 4-point play. He was held scoreless in the second half.
  • Since the start of February, Rob Brandenberg has just 3 turnovers in 240 minutes of gameplay.
  • VCU is a perfect 5-0 with Melvin Johnson in the starting lineup.

Looking forward

VCU hosts St. Bonaventure Saturday night at 7:00 PM. It will be Juvonte Reddic and Rob Brandenberg’s final game in the Siegel Center.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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