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VCU 75, Xavier 71

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- No. 24 Virginia Commonwealth trailed by 17 points early in the second half, but used its full-court pressure to rally for a 75-71 victory over Xavier, earning it an important Atlantic-10 Conference road win at Cintas Center.

Troy Daniels led the Rams with 19 points, including five 3-pointers, Rob Brandenburg added 18 and Treveon Graham had 17 for VCU (22-6, 10-3 A-10), which forced 22 turnovers, most of them coming with Xavier attempting to inbound the ball.

The Rams had 12 steals and scored 23 points of XU turnovers.

Xavier (15-11, 8-5 A-10) lost Dee Davis, its starting point guard and best ball handler, after he was struck in the face during a collision with Daniels with 13:35 left. Without Davis, who scored a team-high 15 points with three assists before the injury, the Musketeers struggled against VCU's pressure.

Semaj Christon, Justin Martin and Isaiah Philmore each scored 11 points for Xavier, which shot 73.7 percent in the first half to build a 13-point halftime lead before succumbing to VCU's pressure.

Martin got the Musketeers started with two strong drives to the basket both resulting in three-point plays.

The Musketeers started Saturday's game red-hot, going 4 for 4 from the field and 2 for 2 from the free-throw line.

VCU, the nation's highest scoring road team at 79.8 per game, shot 30.3 percent and was 2 for 17 from 3-point range in the first half Saturday.

A 3-pointer by Davis and dunk by Philmore came during a 7-0 Musketeers run putting them ahead 22-12. Davis led all scorers with 13 points in the first half.

VCU forced 10 turnovers in the first half, preventing Xavier from building on its lead.

Christon's dunk put Xavier ahead by 17 early in the second half. But consecutive 3-pointers by Daniels started a 10-0 run for VCU, trimming it deficit to 43-36.

The turnovers continued to mount for the Musketeers who were rattled by VCU's full-court pressure. Briante Weber's jumper off a stolen inbounds pass made the score 48-43.

Graham's 3-pointer tied the score 48-48 with 12:09 left. The Rams took their first lead on Teddy Okereafor's layup moments later.

Redford's fourth 3-pointer of the second half put XU ahead briefly, before Daniels answered with a 3-pointer to give VCU a 69-65 lead with 3:47 left. Redford finished with 15 points and five 3-pointers.

Notes: VCU, in its first season in the Atlantic 10, was facing Xavier for just the fourth time, and first since losing to the Musketeers 70-67 in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands on Nov. 17, 2006. ... Daniels broke his own school record for 3-pointers in a season when he hit No. 96 in the first half Saturday. Prior to last season there were only two VCU players who had made more than 90 in a season. ... Christon has earned Atlantic-10 Conference rookie of the week honors four times this season.
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