After dropping three of four, No. 25 VCU has won back-to-back games against George Washington and Saint Louis by a combined 33 points. The Rams beat SLU, 74-54, on Tuesday to notch their 20th win of the season.
“As a team, we just came out, was real aggressive and we came out with a win,” VCU guard Treveon Graham said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “That’s what we wanted to do. The last two times at home, we came up short. We just wanted to come out (and) play loose and aggressive.”
Graham shot 4-of-6 from the field and 8-of-12 from the foul line to finish with a team-high 16 points.
“We came out attacking,” he said. “I saw the refs really calling it tight, so I just wanted to attack. They called a lot of fouls. I just wanted to step up to the line and finish.”
Michael Gilmore (10) and Terry Larrier (nine) combined for 19 points off the bench, while Jonathan Williams had five points and a game-high six assists.
“It’s things that we know they can do,” Graham said. “They just need the confidence and the opportunity to be able to do them. So games like this where they’re able to get the opportunity, we’re comfortable with them going out there and performing.”
VCU (20-6, 10-3) had lost three of four – including one game by two points and another in double overtime – before righting the ship against GW and SLU.
“Just not panicking,” Graham said of the turnaround. “We lost some close games that we knew we could have still won, so we didn’t change anything. We just came out and did the little things a little better.”
With the win, VCU maintained a half-game lead over Dayton (19-5, 9-3), Rhode island (17-6, 9-3) and Massachusetts (16-9, 9-3) in a crowded A-10.
Graham isn’t overly satisfied with this.
“We’ve been No. 1 (in our league) for a while now,” he said. “We don’t really try to focus too much on it because if you focus on trying to stay No. 1, then that’s when you start to tense up and (play not to) lose.”
It’ll be interesting to see how VCU fares in the A-10 and NCAA Tournaments after losing Briante Weber to a torn ACL and MCL in a 64-55 home loss to Richmond on Jan. 31. Weber was averaging 8.1 points, a team-high 4.3 assists, an unreal 3.9 steals and shooting 41.4 percent from three-point range.
Can VCU learn to survive without him?
“We’re getting there,” Graham said. “We have our up and downs as a team, but I think we’re getting better and better without Briante out there. Our guys are just getting comfortable with the team and the new roles that they have.”
Even without Weber, VCU had 10 steals and seven blocks against SLU. Mo Alie-Cox and Jordan Burgess had three swats apiece.
“Thats what Mo does is block shots,” Graham said. “And Jordan, the last couple games, really stepped up (his) aggressiveness with the rebounds and blocking shots. So coming out, I knew they was going to give us that aspect of the game and then just pushing and attacking on offense is what we wanted to do. And we did that.”
VCU hosts Massachusetts this Saturday at noon.