VCU edges Virginia in battle of Commonwealth teams

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Treveon Graham figured it was time to get to work. His No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth University Rams watched a seven-point first half lead slip away, and No. 25 Virginia tied the game in the closing seconds after they let a seven-point lead get away.

So Graham hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with less than two second left as VCU (2-0) beat the Cavaliers 59-56 in a showdown of ranked teams from the Commonwealth.

"It was close at the end. I needed to pick up my game," said Graham, who had a game-high 22 points from the guard position.

"It was an NBA 3. He is a heck of a player," said Tony Bennett, the Virginia coach.

"I prefer to brag about him when he is not around," VCU coach Shaka Smart, with Graham sitting to his left, said of the 6-foot-6 junior guard from Temple Hills, Md.

The Cavaliers (1-1) got 18 points from guard Joe Harris and 10 from guard Malcolm Brogdon, who made one of two free throws with 9.7 seconds to tie the game at 56.

Harris missed two free throws with 3:58 left and also shot an air ball in the closing minutes after he kept Virginia close with 12 points in the first half.

"We had a chance at the end with Joe at the line with two free throws," said Bennett. "That certainly stings. They made some big plays and obviously the three to win it. It was a heck of a game.

"It stings to lose. They do things the right way and we do things the right way. It will be good for our program if we learn from it. It is great for our little world (in Virginia). I don't know if (people in) Kentucky care."

The Rams were out-rebounded 41-28, made just six of 15 free throws and had just seven assists. But they still won on the home court of Virginia, which was one of eight from three-point range and made just 19 of 33 free throws.

"I am real proud of our guys," Smart said. "The crowd was great -- theirs and ours. Just a very good college basketball game this early in the season."

It was just the second time VCU has ever beaten the Cavaliers.

"It's good to get a loss early in the second because we get to learn from it," said sophomore center Mike Tobey of Virginia. "Now we have that feeling in our stomach and we don't want that again. We need to bounce back and get ready for Davidson on Saturday."

"It's disappointing, but it's too early in the season to get down," said senior forward Akil Mitchell, who had nine points for Virginia. "We've got a ton of good teams left and a ton of basketball to be played."

Forward Darion Atkins had eight points and eight rebounds off the bench for Virginia in 24 minutes.

"All we had to do was go against their 'havoc' concept," said the forward. "I feel like we handled the press really well."

But Virginia had 19 turnovers while the Rams had 13.

"We just needed to take care of the ball toward the end and we didn't," Aktins said.
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