After winning at Maryland on Wednesday night, seventh-ranked Virginia survived another hostile environment with an impressive 74-57 win at VCU, giving the Rams their first home loss in 22 games. Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes controlled the tempo of the game, never allowing VCU to get into their normal transition game.
Brogdon scored 15 points in the win and was the best player on the floor for the majority of the game, dishing out four assists and always making the extra pass, helping to set up Justin Anderson’s 21 points. But Virginia coach Tony Bennett said London Perrantes was the key down the stretch. After VCU’s Treveon Graham knocked down three-straight three pointers to cut the Virginia lead to four, Perrantes hit a shot-clock beating runner from the baseline to stop a 9-2 VCU run late in the game.
Perrantes finished the game with six points, but more importantly a game-high nine assists. About the incredible runner, which was over Treveon Graham, VCU coach Shaka Smart said, “Most teams don’t have a player that can make that shot.”
Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers shot an amazing 68 percent from the floor, 74 percent in the second half in which they missed just five shots. Justin Anderson shot 6-7 from the floor, 3-4 from deep and 6-6 from the line to give him a game-high 21 points.
Virginia took a 38-28 lead into halftime while shutting down VCU’s potent transitional play. Shaka Smart said, “Our transition defense was not good in the first half, sometimes players get too excited, that they forget to do the little things.”
VCU hung with Virginia for the first 14 minutes of the second half and with 6:55 left in the game Treveon Graham sank that third consecutive three pointer, all from the same spot in the left corner, to cut the Virginia lead to 59-55.
But the Perrantes runner, followed by two big three pointers by Evan Nolte and Anderson, sparked a 15-0 Virginia run to give them complete control of the last five minutes. Bennett said after the game that some of the keys to the win was handling the VCU pressure and controlling the tempo of the game. He praised the play of Nolte and guard Devon Hall, saying that “experience showed down the stretch.”
Forward Anthony Gill added 18 big points for the Cavaliers on 7-9 shooting and grabbed eight big rebounds, tying him with Anderson and Mike Tobey for a game-high. Virginia out-rebounded VCU 35-21.
Even though VCU was able to force 16 Virginia turnovers, five from Brogdon, the Cavaliers stayed true to their gameplan. Bennett said, “Once we got in the halfcourt offense we slowed it down.” He added that “guys kept their composure, they have been there many times and there is no substitute for that.”
Virginia has a long layoff due to players’ finals, not playing again until December 18th against Cleveland State. But Bennett isn’t worried saying, “Our guys are going to have to be ready. We played nine games in a short amount of time, but they have a lot of studying to do.”
It is definitely worth noting that VCU guard, Briante Weber missed significant minutes in the second half after injuring his ankle. Although he did return to the game, Perrantes and Brogdon were too much for the Rams to handle without arguably the best defensive player in the country. Losing Weber didn’t help but VCU shot just 38 percent from the floor for the game.
Melvin Johnson was a bright spot for the Rams scoring 15 points on 7-14 shooting, but he was just 1-6 from deep. Treveon Graham was relatively quiet throughout the game with the exception of the three minute span where he single-handedly brought the Rams into the game. He finished with 17 points on 6-16 from the floor and 5-9 from deep.
Lastly for VCU, forward Mo Alie-Cox was probably the Rams’ biggest spark plug, scoring eight big second half points on 4-5 shooting. But he wasn’t fed the ball enough to further impact the game in its late minutes.
VCU welcomes another tough opponent to the Siegel Center next Saturday with Northern Iowa coming to town.