Score: VCU 75, Belmont 65
Record: VCU (5-3), Belmont (5-2)
Location: Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center - Richmond, Va.
The Short Story: Playing without its senior point guard Darius Theus due to injury, VCU turned up the HAVOC in a thrilling 75-65 home victory over a very talented Belmont squad. Four players scored in double-figures, led by sophomore Treveon Graham, who finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Classmate Briante Weber was phenomenal in relief of Theus, playing 26 minutes and finishing with seven points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
BELMONT STARTERS: #2 Blake Jenkins, #3 Kerron Johnson, #14 JJ Mann, #21 Ian Clark, #30 Trevor Noack
How It Happened
- It was a back-and-forth battle for the game's first ten minutes, with neither team leading by more than three. There were four ties and five lead changes in the game's first 9:27.
- The final 10-plus minutes of the first half was all HAVOC. In the final 10:33 of the first half, the Rams forced 14 Belmont turnovers, which sparked a 26-6 run to close the first stanza.
- VCU turned those 14 turnovers in 22 points and crashed the offensive boards for 15 second-chance points in the first half.
- Belmont didn't go away quietly though. The Bruins came out of the second half on a 13-4 run capped off by a three-pointer from JJ Mann to cut VCU"s lead to nine at 43-34.
- The Rams would push back and thanks to a three-pointer by senior Troy Daniels saw their lead reach 13 at 66-53 with just under six minutes to play.
- However, a layup from Ian Clark sandwiched between two three-pointers from the Bruins quickly cut VCU's lead to five at 66-61 with 4:46 remaining.
- That's when junior Rob Brandenberg stepped up with a drive to the basket and huge three-pointer with just over three minutes left sealed the deal and secured VCU's 11th win in the past 12 home games.
Beyond the Box Score
- The Rams have now forced 20+ turnovers five times this season. Each time resulted in a VCU victory.
- Eight different players have scored in double-figures in at least one game this year.
- Two steals for Weber put him over the 100 career steals plateau. He now has 101 thefts in 44 career games.
- VCU has outrebounded six of its opponents this year. The Rams won the rebounding edge, 34-27. It marked the fourth time this season that the Black & Gold grabbed 15 or more offensive rebounds in a game (16).
Head Coach Shaka Smart:
- "I thought it was a really good game for us, all things considered. Belmont has a very good team and they're known for knocking people off on the road. I think they're a team that will certainly finish in the top of their league. This is a win that should be a very good RPI win as we move forward. Playing without Darius, I thought our guys brought great energy, particularly in the first half. That 18-point lead was crucial, we needed every bit of it in the end."
- "I think it took a little bit for our guys to feeling their way without Darius out there. When you put Briante into the game, things certainly change. He was unbelievable tonight. I thought he was the biggest key to us winning. He just flew around, made a lot of plays, talked, organized the team and with Darius being out, that was huge."
Junior Rob Brandenberg
- "Even when things aren't necessarily going your way, Coach Smart and all our coaches continue to have confidence in us. At the end there, they just happened to give me the chance and I was able to make a few plays to help our team earn the win."
Sophomore Briante Weber
- "As you could tell, it was definitely different out there without our senior point guard and leader. It was just a little glimpse of what we're going to have to do next year, having to come together and do all the little things to get the win. No matter who's out, we have to have the mindset of the next person stepping up and that's what we did tonight."
COMING UP NEXT:
- The best basketball rivalry in the state of Virginia is renewed next Friday when the Rams travel to Norfolk to take on ODU in the Lumber Liquidators Hardwood Showdown. Game time on NBC Sports Network is set for 9 p.m.