VCU continues to beat 'big boys'

JIM O'CONNELL AP Basketball Writer Published:

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) -- With less than 30 seconds to play in VCU's first-round win at the Battle 4 Atlantis the Rams fans in the Imperial Arena started chanting "We want Duke."

They got what they asked for.

Treveon Graham scored 26 points and Rob Brandenberg added 15 and VCU beat No. 19 Memphis 78-65 on Thursday night.

VCU ( 3-1) will meet No. 5 Duke in Friday's semifinals. The Blue Devils beat Minnesota 89-71.

"Playing Duke, what an incredible opportunity," VCU coach Shaka Smart said. "We'll be facing arguably the best program in the nation and with no argument the best coach in the modern era.

"But we won't fold up to the test." He said.

They certainly didn't in beating Memphis.

The Rams used their frenetic style of play to take a 16-point lead in the first half only to see the Tigers pull to 63-61 with 4:05 to play. VCU then went on an 11-0 run with all the points scored by Graham and Brandenberg. Brandenberg hit two 3s in the run and Graham one as the Rams finished 13 for 22 from behind the arc.

"We had them on their heels in the first half," Smart said. "The overall style of play took a lot out of both teams but we practice that way."

Adonis Thomas had 19 points for the Tigers (2-1), who committed 22 turnovers that the Rams turned into 33 points.

The Rams weren't perfect, committing 19 turnovers that Memphis turned into 23 points.

The difference turned out to be 3-point shooting. Memphis outshot VCU from the field making 27 of 51 (52.9 percent) while the Rams were 26 of 54 (48.1 percent).

While the Rams were making 13 of 22 from beyond the arc, the Tigers only made 2 of 7.

"You can't win a high-level game by committing 22 turnovers and giving up 3s like we did,' Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "I'm proud of my guys for the way they battled back. But one of my pet peeves is giving up 3s and they shot the daylights out of it."

Memphis trailed 42-28 at halftime and managed to get within three points four times before making it a two-point game.

"You can't expect smooth sailing all the time especially after you take a 14-point lead in at halftime," Smart said.

Graham started the deciding run with a rebound basket and Brandenberg hit 3s on the next two possessions and Graham added another to make it 74-61 with 1:20 to play.

"What can I say," Pastner asked, "they shot the daylights out of it from 3, especially those big ones late."

TOP 25

NO. 2 LOUISVILLE 51, N. IOWA 46

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- Russ Smith scored 16 points and Louisville overcame a terrible offensive effort for a 51-46 victory over Northern Iowa in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

The Cardinals had a bad first half, looked as if they straightened things out but then stumbled to the finish.

Louisville (4-0) will face No. 13 Missouri in Friday night's semifinals. The Tigers beat Stanford 78-70.

The Cardinals somehow held a 26-20 halftime lead despite shooting 27.0 percent from the field (10 of 37) and committing 10 turnovers.

They held Northern Iowa (3-1) to one field goal over the opening 10:47 of the second half and that cut Louisville's lead 40-24. It was far from an easy ride to the finish as the Cardinals went 5:12 without scoring and suddenly the Panthers were chipping away.

NO. 5 DUKE 89, MINNESOTA 71

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- Seth Curry scored 25 points and Mason Plumlee added 20 points and a career high-matching 17 rebounds as No. 5 Duke's starters scored all but two of the Blue Devils' points in an 89-71 victory over Minnesota on Thursday in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Sophomore point guard Quinn Cook had a career-high 17 points for the Blue Devils who extended their regular-season tournament winning streak to 21 games, a run that stretches to the championship game of the 2006 CBE Classic.

Duke (4-0) will face VCU in Friday's semifinals.

Rodney Williams had 16 points for the Golden Gophers (4-1), who just couldn't cut into the Blue Devils' lead in the second half.

NO. 13 MISSOURI 78, STANFORD 70

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- Laurence Bowers scored 19 points, as usual most were in the second half, and grabbed 10 rebounds as No. 13 Missouri beat Stanford in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thursday.

Bowers, who had 13 points in the second half, has scored more points after halftime in every game this season for the Tigers (4-0).

Missouri will face No. 2 Louisville in Friday's semifinals.

Chasson Randle had 22 points for the Cardinal (3-2).

No. 17 GONZAGA 57, CLEMSON 49

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk each scored 13 points to help Gonzaga beat Clemson in a first round game at the Old Spice Classic.

Olynyk was in the starting lineup after missing the previous three games due to a violation of the student code of conduct. The junior forward, who had his first two shots blocked, also had three rebounds.

Clemson got 10 points from Adonis Filer. Milton Jennings had six points and eight rebounds.

Sam Dower had 11 points for Gonzaga (4-0), which will go against Oklahoma in Friday's semifinals. Clemson (2-1) will face Texas-El Paso in the loser's bracket.

MAC

FLA. GULF COAST 72, TOLEDO 66

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sherwood Brown scored 22 points and Florida Gulf Coast rallied, then held on to beat Toledo 72-66 in the title game of the Atlantis on the mainland tournament.

The Rockets (1-4) came within two points with 20 seconds left after three free throws by Rian Pearson, who finished with 28 points. Brown's dunk made it 70-66 and the Eagles were in control after that.

Eric McKnight had 15 points and Chase Fieler 10 for FGCU (4-2). Bernard Thompson grabbed 11 rebounds for the Eagles.

OHIO COLLEGE

PACIFIC 70, XAVIER 67

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Trevin Harris scored 16 points Thursday and Pacific held on to beat Xavier 70-67 in the opener of the DirecTV Classic.

Travis Fulton and Tony Gill scored 10 points apiece for the Tigers (2-2), leading Pacific's 28-2 advantage in bench scoring.

Semaj Christian had 18 points and six assists to lead the Musketeers (3-1). Xavier trailed 70-61 with 20 seconds to play but 3-pointers by Dee Davis and Justin Martin helped the Musketeers get within three points.

Davis finished with 14 points, Travis Taylor scored 13 and Martin had 11 points for Xavier.

Pacific will play Saint Mary's on Friday while Xavier will face Drexel.

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