Graham’s 24 lead No. 25 VCU past UMass 78-72
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Jordan Burgess watched his brother’s No. 20 jersey get retired, then went out and did the number proud.
Burgess’ 3-pointer reclaimed the lead for No. 25 VCU on Saturday, and his blocked shot moments later brought the quieted fans at the Siegel Center to their feet, sending the Rams on the way to a 78-72 victory against Massachusetts.
Before the game, the school made Bradford Burgess the fifth player to have his jersey retired. Burgess, who made a school record 146 consecutive starts between 2008-12, ranks fifth in career scoring at the school with 1,684 points.
His younger brother, who also wears No. 20, is more of a defensive specialist, but also has a knack for the big play. After VCU finished squandering all of a 16-point lead and found itself trailing by one, he found himself with an opportunity.
”I had the open shot so I just took it, and then I was at the right spot at the right time on defense and happened to get the block,” the younger Burgess said. ”Getting the crowd involved was a very big help for us. It’s a momentum changer.”
Or a dagger, depending on who’s looking. Burgess had made 20 of 70 3-point attempts, a .286 percentage, this season.
”Him hitting a `3′ was huge because his percentages aren’t as high as some of the other players, so that was a good play for them,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. Add the block, he said, and they were ”maybe the possessions of the game.”
Burgess’ 3-pointer sparked a 17-5 run, and when the Minutemen closed to within 70-67 in the final minute, VCU finished them off by making all eight of their free throws.
”UMass had really gotten us on our heels,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. ”During that stretch we kind of got back to being the aggressors.”
Treveon Graham, still showing some effects of a high left ankle sprain, lead the Rams with 24 points and 10 rebounds. JeQuan Lewis added 15 and Moe Alie-Cox had 12 for VCU (21-6, 11-3 Atlantic 10), which maintained at least a share of first place in the league.
Jabarie Hinds scored 16 points, Trey Davis had 14 and Cady Lalanne 13 for UMass (16-11, 9-5), which was seeking a much-needed resume-building victory. The Minutemen used a 12-0 run earlier in the half to go ahead 48-47 with 12:22 left.
After Burgess stopped the run, Alie-Cox followed with a dunk.
Hinds scored for UMass, and Alie-Cox was fouled while scoring and converted the three-point play. He added another free throw and then Jonathan Williams fed Jarred Guest for a two-handed dunk to make it 58-50.
Davis interrupted the Rams’ run with a 3-pointer, but Alie-Cox scored inside again, Lewis drove for a basket and, after a 10-second violation against the Minutemen, Burgess drove to cap the run.
UMass finished with 19 turnovers leading to 24 points for VCU.
The Rams, who made only 2 of 12 3-point shots in the first half, hit their first four of the second half and led 47-36 after Lewis’ 3-pointer fell with 16:15 remaining. But with the crowd thinking VCU was about to take command, the shots stopped falling and the Minutemen methodically rallied.
Continually driving and accepting two-point shots, UMass reeled off 12 straight points, the last on a 12-footer by Hinds to give them their first lead.
The Rams honored former player Bradford Burgess before the game by retiring his No. 20 jersey, and the team came out fired up. They forced six turnovers before UMass scored a basket and led 13-2.
UMass: The Minutemen had six turnovers before Derrick Gordon scored their first field goal with 14:12 left in the half. … Hinds ended the first half with a buzzer-beating floater top pull the minutemen within 35-30.
VCU: The Rams forced 12 first-half turnovers while committing six, but each team scored seven points off its takeaways. The Rams added 17 points off 12 more turnovers in the second half, while UMass added only five points off seven takeaways.
UMass is at home against Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday night.
VCU looks to avenge a home loss when it plays at crosstown rival Richmond on Wednesday night.
Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr