Graham's 20 lead VCU past Cleveland State, 72-63
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) VCU coach Shaka Smart and lots of other people around campus remind Treveon Graham on a regular basis that he could leave college as the career scoring leader for the Rams. While Graham admits that it's hard not to think about it, he adds, ''I'm more focused on winning a championship.''
The Rams might want to inspire him to blend the two and realize that the harder he pursues the record, the better VCU is likely to play.
The senior scored six of his 20 points in a 17-5 run spanning the halves Monday night and VCU stretched its winning streak to five with a 72-63 victory against Cleveland State. The performance moved Graham to ninth on VCU's career list with 1,565 points, 388 shy of Eric Maynor's mark of 1,953.
''I think about it. It's hard not to, but I try to go out there and just play my game and if it comes, it comes,'' Graham said.
It's a pretty lofty goal for a guy who had two scholarship offers coming out of high school, with Cleveland State being the other.
But Vikings coach Gary Waters said the game wasn't scheduled to give him a chance to see the nearly finished product four years later.
''If that's the case, I done lost it then,'' he said, laughing. ''I thought he was going to be a great player. That's why we recruited him so hard.''
Terry Larrier added 13 points and JeQuan Lewis had 11 for the Rams (10-3), who scored six of the final eight points of the first half, then opened the second half on an 11-3 run. Larrier, Melvin Johnson and Doug Brooks all made 3-pointers in the burst, with Brooks' shot giving VCU a 43-30 lead 3:38 into the half.
The Vikings (6-8) didn't get within single digits again until inside the final 2 minutes.
Cleveland State was led by Charlie Lee and Trey Lewis with 15 points each and Vinny Zollo with 14, but Lewis, their scoring leader with a 17.6-point average, missed 10 of his 15 shots and scored the final eight of his points after the outcome was no longer in doubt.
It was the final nonconference game for VCU, which opens Atlantic 10 Conference play at Fordham on Jan. 4, and as they have during their winning streak, the Rams have looked like a worthy A-10 favorite. But Lewis said there's no relaxing for the Rams with a goal of getting that championship in mind.
''We came in second the past two years,'' he said. ''It's time to change that around.''
Graham grabbed nine rebounds and Briante Weber had six assists.
The Rams, preseason favorites to win the league, head into their A-10 schedule playing their best basketball of the season.
''We're playing better than when we started,'' Graham said. ''We've still got a long way to go to be where we want to be.''
The Vikings fell behind 11-0, then used an 18-8 run fueled by three 3-pointers from Zollo to pull within a point. Cleveland State pulled even twice later in the half, but VCU closed the half on a 6-2 run to lead 32-27.
The Vikings outrebounded VCU 17-13 in the half and turned six offensive boards into nine points.
Cleveland St.: Trey Lewis made nine 3-pointers in 11 tries in a victory against Mount Vernon on Dec. 15 and arrived at the Siegel Center having made a total of nine in 17 tries in the three games since. He was 4 for 9 against the Rams.
VCU: In its three previous games, VCU had allowed 55 field goals and forced 54 turnovers. The Vikings had 23 baskets and 13 turnovers.
The Rams' sellout streak reached 57 games, the fifth-longest streak in the country. They trail only Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and Gonzaga.
Cleveland St. hosts Milwaukee on Jan. 2.
VCU opens A-10 play at Fordham on Jan. 4.
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