The Rams knew they would get a test from the Ohio Valley Conference’s preseason No.1 tonight, but probably weren’t expecting an overtime thriller in a game they trailed by as many as 14 points.
VCU once again jumped out to a slow start against an OVC opponent, but battled back from their second double-digit deficit in as many games to eventually escape the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky, 71-68 in the Rams first overtime win of the season.
The black and gold trailed 22-8 with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half before Melvin “The Microwave” Johnson heated up, hitting one three-point attempt per minute over the next three. Treveon Graham added to the hot streak by hitting two of his own in less than two minutes, followed by a Rob Brandenberg three and two by freshman JeQuan Lewis with some close range buckets in between to tie the game before Treveon Graham scored on a tip-in as time expired to head into the second half with a 38-36 lead.
Out of the half, EKU once again gained control, holding the lead over over 11 minutes of the second half before JeQuan Lewis scored five of his career-high 13 points in less than a minute to give VCU a 61-60 lead. The two teams changed leads three times after until a Melvin Johnson floater tied the game with 1:04 to play, a bucket that would eventually send the game to overtime.
In extra time, the Rams scored just five points but locked down on defense, holding EKU to just one field goal to hang on for the win.
The Rams turned the ball over 16 times in the win, one more time than the Colonels who turned it over just 15 times. It was a rare roll reversal but one not entirely unexpected, as EKU’s 11.9 steals per contest coming into this matchup ranked second national behind leader VCU’s 13.
Another rough spot for the Rams on the night was the charity stripe where VCU hit just 8-17 free throws.
Treveon Graham once again led the Rams in scoring, posting 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting and added nine rebounds and three assists in the win.
Guards Melvin Johnson and Rob Brandenberg both chipped in 12 points for VCU. Brandenberg hit a game-high four three-pointers of his eight attempts while Johnson connected on three of his nine and added two assists and two steals for VCU.
Senior big, Juvonte Reddic, had a quite night, connecting on three of his season-low four attempts in the win for seven points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
The win was the Rams third-straight W since returning from Puerto Rico and moves VCU to 7-2 on the season. Coach Smart and Co. will next welcome rival, Old Dominion, to the Siegel Center for the first time since the two met as CAA rivals in January of 2012. Game tips at 1:30PM this Sunday.