The Rams controlled most of Friday night’s contest against No.5 Duke but let one get away from them thanks to a big 17-3 second half Blue Devils run, resulting in the Rams first loss of the season, a 79-71 defeat at the hands of the defending national champ.
The black and gold took a one-point lead into the half, a lead they grew to six before eventually surrendering it permanently with just over 11 minutes to play.
Two Melvin Johnson free throws trimmed a Devils’ lead that had ballooned to double-digits down to six with 1:14 to play, but the Rams couldn’t make the big shots needed late while Duke was able to ice the game at the free throw line.
Both teams shot over 50% in the first half with VCU hitting 58%, but the Rams offense went cold during the second half, a problem compounded by 16 fouls called on the black and gold resulting in 25 free throw attempts for Duke compared to just 11 for the Rams.
The loss moves VCU to the third-place game in this year’s 2K Classic where they’ll face last season’s national runner-up, Wisconsin.