Recap: #7 UVA tops improving VCU

#7 Virginia’s crisp passing and frustrating Pack Line Defense were too much for VCU Saturday afternoon in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

#7 Virginia used a 15-0 run Saturday afternoon to dismantle HAVOC! en route to a 74-57 victory in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.


The Rams started the game by battling shot for shot with the Cavaliers. Virginia’s Justin Anderson, who finished with 21 points, was sensational but Treveon Graham (17 points) and Melvin Johnson (15 points) kept responding. In the final minutes of the first, VCU hit a wall also known as the Pack Line D. UVA entered the locker room with a 38-28 lead.

After trailing by as many as twelve in the second half, the Rams fought back to 59-55 behind three Treveon Graham 3-pointers in under two minutes. On all three plays, Mo Alie-Cox set a middle ball screen which allowed either Melvin Johnson or Briante Weber to split the double team and kick it to Treveon Graham in the corner.

But “sometimes players get so excited they forget to do the little things” Coach Smart commented after the game. The Rams simply gave up too many buckets on the back end of the press, failed to rotate on shooters, and threw away too many possessions on offense to contend with a top-10 team.

They had a lot of answers.Coach Smart

Graham’s scoring burst forced Coach Bennett to call a timeout. Then UVA responded. After an untimely palming call on JeQuan Lewis, Malcolm Brogdon hit an incredible trick shot which sparked a 15-0 run which ballooned the final margin to 17 points.

Getting Better

November and December are about getting better leading up to conference play. Lost in dominant victories are the chinks in the armor. Lost in the lopsided beatdowns is the improvement. Saturday was full of lapses on both ends of the court, but the Rams also did a few things they’ve failed to do against meaningful competition this season.

Some of the best half-court possessions of the season came in the second half when VCU expanded its offense beyond isolation and weave plays. Mo Alie-Cox took zero shots in the first half. In the second half, the Rams got him involved all over the court and he finished 4-of-5. The three plays that resulted in Treveon Graham 3-pointers were also crisply executed.

The Rams desperately need a 3rd scorer behind Treveon Graham and Melvin Johnson. Jordan Burgess and JeQuan Lewis are capable of stepping up, but the Rams are better with the post presence of Alie-Cox. Briante Weber undoubtedly tried to fill role of scorer on Saturday (2-8 2PFG, 0-2 3PFG), but the Rams need him to get others involved because when he showed poise, the Rams looked capable of winning.

VCU has several brutal games left in the non-conference slate. These little lessons will be invaluable as the Rams gear up to compete for the Atlantic 10 title. When asked about his mindset moving forward, Briante Weber only said one thing, “get better.”

Top performer: Justin Anderson

21 points (3-3 2PFG, 3-4 3PFG), 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block

He’s as good as in anyone in the country at his position.Coach Smart

Anderson injured his ankle against Maryland on Wednesday and was limited in practice yesterday. He was also seen wearing a boot yesterday in Charlottesville yesterday as well as after the game today. But the 32 minutes he was on the court, he looked beyond healthy. In addition to his soft shooting touch, Anderson had several unbelievable dunks and a gravity defying block on Justin Tillman. There’s almost no doubt that Anderson will be a part of the Association in the not too distant future.

5 stats

  • UVA shot 22-30 (.733) from 2-point range and 6-11 (.545) from 3-point range.
  • Saturday was VCU’s first loss at home in 680 days. The Rams are now 3-1 against ranked opponents in the Siegel Center.
  • According to, VCU has played the 17th toughest schedule in the nation this year.
  • Treveon Graham passed B.A. Walker (1,480) to move into 12th all-time at VCU for scoring (1,488).
  • VCU now ranks 325th in 3-point defense (.408) and 261st in 2-point defense (.261).

Looking forward

VCU hosts Northern Iowa (7-0) next Saturday at 7:00 PM. The Panthers beat VCU last season 77-68 in the McLeod Center. The game will be broadcast on NBCSportsNetwork.

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Aaron Williams

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

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