Guy, Jerome lead No. 4 Virginia over VCU, 57-49
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Virginia Commonwealth gave Virginia the test the Cavaliers sought when they put the Rams on their nonconference schedule. Down the stretch, Virginia passed.
The Cavaliers outscored VCU 19-6 over the final 6:30, a span that saw the Rams whistled for six fouls, as the home team pulled away late for a 57-49 victory Sunday.
Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome combined for 29 points, with Jerome scoring 10 of his points in that final stretch.
“Who was going to outlast who?” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “We just kind of stuck with what we did, (tried) a couple little things here and there, and tried to toughen up defensively.”
Guy scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, while Jerome put up 11 of his 14 after the break. Kihei Clark drew a key 10-second violation on VCU’s P.J. Byrd with 5:25 to play.
“Everyone made timely plays,” Jerome said.
Virginia (9-0) missed 13 of its first 15 shots after the break and VCU (7-3), coming off its road upset of Texas on Wednesday, led 37-36 midway through the second half.
Isaac Vann led the Rams with 10 points as VCU played its closest contest with Virginia since its 59-56 victory in 2013. Since then, the Cavaliers have won three straight.
“They did a great job down the stretch of finding a way to win,” Rams coach Mike Rhoades said. “I thought we beat ourselves down the stretch there. Fouled too much. Put them on the line and didn’t execute down the stretch.
“They beat us down the stretch. That’s the sign of a good team.”
Clark played the game with his left wrist in a cast. The freshman suffered a hairline fracture taking a charge during the second half of Virginia’s last game, a home win over Morgan State on Dec. 3. He’ll undergo surgery on Monday and there is no set timetable for his return.
Clark said the injury affected his ability to dribble to his left on Sunday. Still, he logged 33 minutes, scoring nine points, dishing four assists and drawing the key 10-second violation.
“It didn’t affect his heart or his legs,” Bennett said. “He brought what we needed.”
Coming off its upset of Texas and former coach Shaka Smart, VCU impressed again, sticking close to Virginia for much of the afternoon. While the Rams lost for the third straight time to the Cavaliers, this was the closest of those matchups. ... Virginia struggled offensively, but its defense and two stars lifted it to what should be considered a quality win on its NCAA resume come March.
VCU has six days off before hosting Charleston on Dec. 15, the Rams’ first home game in two weeks.
Virginia has 10 days off before it plays at South Carolina on Dec. 19, 10 days before the schools’ football teams meet in the Belk Bowl.