One 3-point shot was all that separated the state of Virginia's two premier basketball programs in their first meeting in 15 years.
Unable to find a lane to the rim as the final seconds of regulation melted off the clock, VCU guard Rob Brandenberg swung the ball to teammate Treveon Graham well behind the 3-point arc on the left wing. Graham recognized defender London Perrantes was giving him a cushion, so the 6-foot-6 junior attempted a 28-footer and buried it with 1.1 seconds left to give VCU a 59-56 road victory.
"When I got the ball back, I knew there were only three seconds left," Graham told reporters in Charlottesville after the game. "I take those kind of shots every day in practice. I was confident enough to know if Rob would throw it back I would have made it."
Graham's clutch 3-pointer gave VCU bragging rights over an in-state foe who could not be anymore different than the Rams.
VCU is the small-conference upstart who has risen to national prominence thanks to its swarming, frenetic full-court pressure defense known as "Havoc." Virginia is the traditional ACC power who has regained relevance recently thanks to a methodical style and a pack-line defense that dares opponents to shoot from the perimeter.
Though the Cavaliers dictated the pace for most of the game, the Rams were still within seven points with seven minutes to play. It was then that the pace quickened and Graham led VCU back, scoring 10 of his game-high 22 points during a game-ending 15-5 spurt to give the Rams a resume-boosting win over an upper-echelon ACC team.
"[Graham] keeps getting better and better," VCU coach Shaka Smart told reporters in Charlottesville. "He is going to make a whole lot more of those of shots. During that last play, the guys did a great job of executing. Treveon caught it with about three seconds left and those are the kind of shots that we want. We want out best scorer with the ball, making plays at the end."
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