Graham's 24 push VCU past Northeastern, 79-66
RICHMOND, Va. (AP)
Juvonte Reddic added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Melvin Johnson scored 13 for the Rams (5-2), who shook up their starting lineup after a 1-2 showing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and saw it pay off. Johnson took Graham's spot in the starting five, and Mo Alie-Cox started and blocked five shots.
David Walker led Northeastern (2-5) with 19 points, and Scott Eatherton had 17 with eight rebounds.
The Huskies, former Colonial Athletic Association rivals of the Rams, had won four of the last seven meetings, but the resurgence of Graham gave VCU a huge boost.
The junior, who had started every game this season, came into the game in a shooting slump, having made just 11 of 36 shots and 4 of 17 3-pointers in the last three games, but snapped out of it quickly. He hit a foul-line jumper shortly after entering the game and finished 9 for 12 overall and 4 for 4 on 3s.
The Huskies used an 8-2 run to pull even at 49 with 13:10 to play on T.J. Williams' steal and layup, but just as quickly as they got back into the game, VCU's outside game finally started clicking.
Brandenburg and Graham made 3-pointers sandwiched around a field goal by Eatherton. A dunk by Walker made it 55-53, but Graham fed Melvin Johnson for a layup and then followed with a four-point play, the sellout crowd at the Seigel Center erupting at the hint that the Rams might finally extend their lead.
After two free throws by Walker, Graham connected again from behind the arc and it was 64-55.
The Huskies also participated in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and also went 1-2.
Until Graham's second-half flurry, the game was close throughout.
Reddic and Graham had four points each in an 8-0 first-half run that gave VCU a 26-17 lead with just under seven minutes left, but Walker's 3-pointer started his personal 8-0 burst for the Huskies.
A 7-0 run by Northeastern gave them a 34-29 lead late in the half, and the Rams scored the last eight points of the half on a 3-pointer by Johnson, Rob Brandenburg's steal and dunk and Graham's three-point play.
VCU was without starting forward Terrance Shannon, who was attending to a family matter, the school said.
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