Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Villanova holds off Michigan to win Legends; VCU third

The scene during Villanova-Michigan. Photo by Jason Schott.
By Jason Schott of - Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - @JESchott19

The Villanova Wildcats, ranked 14th in the nation, won the Progressive Legends Classic on Tuesday night at Barclays Center with a 60-55 win over #19 Michigan 60-55. VCU beat Oregon 77-63 in the Consolation Game.


This was a tight game from the start, and Michigan had a 20-18 lead on a Caris LeVert three-pointer with 7:17 left in the first half. Villanova shut them out the rest of the way and took a 27-20 lead into halftime.

They then opened the second half on a 6-0 run, capped by a JayVaughn Pinkston dunk with 17:52 left in the second half. Michigan got their first basket of the second half on a Zak Irvin jumper at the 17:23 mark. That broke an extended scoreless streak by Michigan of 9 minutes and 54 seconds.

That started a big run by Michigan to take a 43-38 lead on a Kameron Chatman jumper with 9:02 left. Michigan expanded that lead to eight, at 51-43, on a Derrick Walton, Jr., jumper with 5:59 left. Villanova responded with a 9-0 run, with threes from Ryan Arcidiacono and Dylan Ennis and capped by a Josh Hart free throw with 2:03 left that made it 52-51 Villanova. LeVert made back-to-back jumpers to give them a 55-54 lead with 58 seconds left.

The final minute belonged to Pinkston, who is a Brooklyn native. He hit a jumper with 16 seconds left to give them a 56-55 lead and then blocked an Irvin layup with 4 seconds left. Arcidiacono hit four free throws after that to give Villanova the 60-55 win.

Villanova was led by Dylan Ennis, who had 15 points on 6-for-10 from the field and 3-for-6 on three-pointers.Daniel Ochefu had 10 points and 4 rebounds. Pinkston had 8 points and 9 rebounds, falling just short of a double-double.

Michigan was led by LeVert, who had 16 points and 6 rebounds.Irvin had 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Walton had 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.


VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart looks on as they set up their offense. Photo by Jason Schott

VCU's HAVOC defense was in full force from the beginning of this one, as they held Oregon scoreless for the first 4 minutes and 27 seconds. VCU jumped out to a 12-0 lead in that time, but Oregon battled back and pulled within two, at 27-25, on a three from Dillon Brooks at the 4:10 mark of the first half.

VCU responded with an 8-0 run capped by a layup from Mo Alie-Cox with 17 seconds left. Oregon's Jalil Abdul-Bassit hit a jumper with 4 seconds left cut VCU's lead to 35-27 at halftime.

Oregon came out firing in the second half, starting out with an 11-4 run that cut VCU's lead to 39-38 at the 14:14 mark of the second half. Briante Weber got a three-point play to start a 6-0 VCU run to make it 45-38 at the 11:43 mark. VCU was in control from then on, and went up 11, at 59-48, on a Treveon Graham layup with 6:54 left. Oregon got as close as six points, at 67-61, with 3:36 left, but VCU responded with an 8-0 run capped by an Alie-Cox layup with 40 seconds left that made it 75-61 VCU. All five of VCU's starters scored in double figures.

Melvin Johnson led the way with 19 points on 7-for-13 from the field and 3-for-6 on three-pointers, with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Graham had 13 points on 5-for-7 from the field and 1-2 on threes, with 4 rebounds. Jordan Burgess had 12 points and 7 rebounds. Weber had a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists, and notched 4 rebounds. Alie-Cox had 10 points and 5 rebounds.

VCU head coach Shaka Smart said of having five starters in double figures, "It depends on the game, but we certainly have a lot of guys who are capable of getting double figures, not just our starting lineup. It's good to have balance because we can't just focus on one guy. I thought last night Villanova put a lot of emphasis on Mel and on Tre, and that's what a lot of teams are going to do because they are probably our two best scorers. But I thought that Jordan, Mo, and Briante - those guys stepped up and JeQuan (Lewis) played much better. But as Melvin said, it starts on defense. We need to continue to get better on defense. I thought overall, we played with great effort, but tonight, we are still not at the level that we want. I think that our guys, on the quick turnaround, did a really good job locking in on what we needed to do."

Smart said of the game, "Our guys did a great job following the plan that we put in place. Obviously it was a quick turnaround coming off of last night's game. We talked about Oregon this morning, and what we would need to do against them. At the end of the day, these two guys (Burgess and Johnson) along with the other guys that played big minutes, made a lot of 'toughness' plays and that made the difference for us."

VCU shot 50 percent from the field, or 28 of 56 shot attempts. They held Oregon to just 37.5 percent, or 21-for-56, from the field.

The super band from VCU conducted by Superman. Photo by Jason Schott.

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