No. 22 VCU routs Duquesne, gives Smart 100th victory
Duquesne’s Sean Johnson, left, loses the ball as Virginia Commonwealth’s Rob Brandenberg defends in the first half Saturday night at Consol Energy Center. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Rob Brandenberg scored 22 points and No. 22 VCU dominated in winning its 13th consecutive game, 90-63 over Duquesne on Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.
The Rams’ Treveon Graham had 17 of his 20 points in the first half, when VCU (4-0 Atlantic 10, 16-3) used a 26-2 run to seize control. It would cruise to extend what is the nation’s second-longest active winning streak.
VCU coach Shaka Smart became the second-youngest coach to reach 100 career victories. The 35-year-old needed 131 games, 30th-fewest in NCAA history. Only 11 other coaches reached 100 wins in their first four seasons, including Butler’s Brad Stevens. He was 34 when he won his 100th game.
The Rams were playing their first game as a ranked team since 1984-85.
Derrick Colter had 15 points to lead the Dukes (0-4, 7-11), who have lost six straight.
Juvonte Reddic added 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting and grabbed six rebounds for VCU, which has an average margin of victory of 21.7 points during its streak but was coming off an overtime win less than 48 hours earlier.
But unlike on Thursday against visiting Saint Joseph’s, the Rams would need no late comeback. The only time they trailed in front of a sparse crowd at what is usually the NHL Penguins’ home arena was when Duquesne took a 2-0 lead.
A jumper by Colter 6 minutes in pulled the Dukes within 13-12. But Duquesne would score only two points over the next 11:18. During that time, the Dukes committed six of their 18 turnovers.
Playing their trademark “havoc” style — VCU leads the nation in steals and in turnovers created — the Rams pressured and befuddled Duquesne into poor, panicked decisions.
VCU, which led by as many as 35 points, shot 50 percent from the field (36 for 72), including 12 3-pointers. Graham and Brandenberg each had five 3-pointers.
In its first season as an Atlantic 10 member, VCU moved one-half game in front of fellow newcomer Butler in the conference standings. The Rams are tied with Xavier for the A-10 lead.
It was the seventh time this season VCU scored at least 90 points.
Playing a ranked opponent for the first time this season, Duquesne shot 57 percent (13 for 23) in the second half.