Graham pushes No. 21 VCU past Richmond, 93-82

HANK KURZ Jr. (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The last time No. 21 VCU played Richmond, the Spiders made a stunning comeback and won going away.

In a close rematch with 3 minutes to play on Wednesday night, the Rams resolved not to let it happen again.

Treveon Graham scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, including the go-ahead basket with 2:58 to play, and VCU finished off its city rival with a game-ending 14-3 run for a 93-82 victory, avoiding being swept in the season series.

''The main thing that was on our minds was finish the game,'' said senior point guard Darius Theus, who was honored before the game along with guard Troy Daniels and forward David Hinton. ''That game at Richmond, we didn't finish.''

This time, Graham scored on a drive to break the 79-all tie, Juvonte Reddic followed a Spiders turnover with a putback dunk and then added another basket in close. It was 85-79, the sellout crowd at the Siegel Center was roaring and the Rams added five more points - all free throws by Briante Weber - and it was 90-79 with under a minute to play.

''Tre made some big plays ... as he always does,'' Theus said.

Graham said with several Spiders big men in foul trouble late, attacking the basket made sense.

''I didn't want to settle for jump shots,'' he said. ''I wanted to get to the basket as much as I could and finish through them.''

Reddic added 16 points, Theus had 13 and Rob Brandenburg 12 for the Rams (24-6, 12-3 Atlantic 10), who remained in control of at least the second seed in the conference tournament later this month.

The victory impressed coach Shaka Smart, who said his team's 32-point drubbing of Butler on Saturday took a lot out of them, and he could tell early on they were going to have to grind one out against the Spiders.

''It says a lot for our guys to come out here tonight and find a way coming off that game'' Smart said.

Cedric Lindsay led the Spiders (17-13, 7-8) with 22 points, Terry Allen had 13 and Alonzo Nelson-Ododa and Kendall Anthony added 11 each.

''A couple plays went their way,'' Lindsay said off the finish, when he missed on a drive, turned the ball over and then missed on another tough drive, the Rams converting each time to gain some separation. ''They got a couple of hustle plays. It happens in basketball. They're a great team, Great teams make runs and that's what they did,''

The Rams' late surge prevented a repeat of the teams' meeting on Jan. 24 at Richmond, when the Spiders erased a seven-point deficit in the final 40 seconds, forcing overtime on a long 3-pointer by Darien Brothers in the final seconds, and then swamped the stunned Rams in overtime for an 86-74 victory.

This one was just as close until the final minutes.

Richmond trailed by six points early in the second half, but used a 14-4 run to open a 63-57 lead with 13:21 to play. The last eight points came in a span of 50 seconds on a 3-pointer by Brothers, Derrick Williams' stickback and, after a turnover by VCU, another 3-pointer by Nelson-Ododa.

The Rams responded with a 10-2 burst that featured a three-point play and rare 3-pointer by Theus, giving them a 67-65 lead with 9 1-2 minutes to play, and it remained a possession-by-possession game until Graham's drive put the Rams ahead.

VCU closed the first half on a 13-4 run, getting four points each from Melvin Johnson and Theus and a 3-pointer from Brandenburg with 2 seconds left to take a 43-41 lead.


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