Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

December 21, 2013

Virginia Commonwealth swarms over Hokies

RICHMOND, Va. — Melvin Johnson scored 16 of his career-high 27 points during a 31-0 first-half run Saturday and VCU won the featured matchup of the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic 82-52 against Virginia Tech.

Johnson, whose previous career high was 16 points, made eight 3-pointers as the Rams (10-3) won the first meeting between the programs since they were rivals in the Metro Conference in 1995.

Juvonte Reddic added 10 points for the Rams, and Rob Brandenberg (5 points) became the 33rd player in school history to reach the 1,000-point scoring plateau. Treveon Graham (7) moved one points from becoming the 34th 1,000-point scorer.

Jarell Eddie scored 12 to lead Virginia Tech (7-4), which had won four straight. The Hokies started fast, scoring the first six points, then got swarmed once the Rams started making baskets and setting up their 94-foot pressure. Virginia Tech finished with 27 turnovers that led to 42 points for VCU.

The Rams, in shocking contrast, had only seven turnovers that led to five points for the Hokies.

The victory gave the Rams a sweep of the state’s two power conference schools this season. VCU, which hadn’t played both in a season since the 1989-90 campaign, won 59-56 at Virginia on Nov. 12.

The game, especially at the start, was reminiscent of the Rams’ 74-64 victory against George Mason in the 2012 Colonial Athletic Association tournament; a game the Rams led 32-4 after about nine minutes.

But unlike that game, which became close after halftime, this one never did.

The Hokies, who trailed 42-22 at halftime, did get within 15 early in the second half, but Brandenberg’s driving basket was followed by a putback dunk by Reddic and the threat was repelled.

The Hokies started quickly, getting 3-pointers from Marshall Wood and Eddie to lead 6-0 after 2:17, but the Rams settled down and got into their trademark pressing game once Juvonte Reddic scored on a dunk.

The tide turned very quickly after C.J. Barksdale’s jumper gave the Hokies an 8-6 advantage.  Johnson gave the Rams the lead back with his second 3-pointer, and over the next 10 minutes, Johnson hit four more from long distance while the Hokies missed all eight of their shots.

They also turned the ball over seven times against the Rams’ intense, 94-foot defense, and with the crowd decidedly in their favor and exhorting the city team on, VCU essentially put the game away before the halftime break.

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