- Score: VCU 86, UMass 68
- Records: VCU (20-5, 8-2 A-10), UMass (16-7, 6-4 A-10)
- Location: Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center
- The Short Story: Junior Rob Brandenberg scored the first five points of the second half to spark a dominating 21-1 run out of halftime to key VCU's 86-68 victory over UMass on Thursday night in front of the 33rd straight sellout at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Sophomore Treveon Graham and freshman Melvin Johnson combined for 37 points on 14-of-25 shooting to pace a Black & Gold offensive attack that scored 85-plus for the eighth time this season.
How It Happened
- In a game featuring two of the A-10's most fast-paced teams, the first half featured six ties and four lead changes with no team holding more than a six-point cushion at any point over the first 20 minutes.
- With the game tied at 21, VCU scored the next seven points and look to take control after sophomore Jarred Guest laid in a bucket with 7:47 to play in the stanza.
- However, Raphiael Putney and his UMass teammates wouldn't go away, closing the half with a 10-5 run and taking a 42-37 lead into halftime.
- Brandenberg, who had a tough a first half, came out and helped set the tone for the second half, scoring five points in a 50-second span to quickly even the score at 42.
- From there, VCU's HAVOC defense would hold UMass without a field for the first 6:23 of the second half and force seven turnovers over that span en route to a 21-1 run and a 58-43 lead.
- The Rams' lead would never dip below 13 the rest of the way and would reach as high as 27 as Johnson scored 13 of his career-high 18 points in the second half, shooting 6-of-8 from the field during the stanza.
Beyond the Box Score
- VCU reached the 20-win plateau for the seventh consecutive season, the longest such streak in program history. Coach Smart became the first coach in school history to post four straight 20-plus win seasons.
- The Rams improved to 12-0 this year and 28-2 during Rob Brandenberg's career when the Cincinnati, Ohio native scores 11 or more points.
- VCU also improved to 20-0 when it forces 15 or more turnovers this season.
- Graham led all scorers with 19 points, marking his 18th straight game in double-figures.
- The Rams have now won 44 of their past 46 outings when they score 65 or more points.
- With 86 points on the night, VCU moved to 14th in the country in scoring offense with 77.8 points per game.
Head Coach Shaka Smart
- "I thought it was a great game tonight. I thought UMass came out ready to go and really came at us early, made some shots and attacked the basket. But the thing I told the guys at halftime is that I thought we were in a really good place because we got the style of play going our way and we weren't making a lot of layups, but we were getting in the lane and getting good shots, so I felt like things would turn in our favor in the second half and it did."
Junior Rob Brandenberg
- "We knew we just had to stay aggressive and continue to focus on the plan. We can't let any outside factors play into what we're trying to do. We have to always be the aggressor and that's what we were focused on coming out of halftime."
- "This league is tough. Every night is going to be a battle, so we know that every time we step on the court we have to come ready to play for a full 40 minutes and I think we're taking steps to doing that, but have to continue to put in the work if we want to accomplish the goals we have set."
Sophomore Treveon Graham
- "We knew that they would want to run with us and when the game started the way it did with no media for the first eight or nine minutes, you could tell it was going to be up and down all night long. We have to battle fatigue every day in practice, so we knew that's what we just had to keep doing and things would go our way eventually."
- VCU returns to action in less than 48 hours when the Colonials of George Washington University visit the Siegel Center on Saturday night. Game time on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic is set for 7:30 p.m.