The in-commonwealth rivalry between the VCU Rams and the Virginia Cavaliers is one that should become a mainstay on the schedule for years to come. But next time, VCU would prefer not to see Kyle Guy.
Guy led all scorers with 29, shooting 55 percent both from the floor and from three, and Tony Bennett’s squad survived a spirited upset bid by their Richmond neighbors, 76-67.
The Hoos struggled early defensively as the Rams repeatedly attacked down low. VCU shot extremely well from two (79%) in the first half going for high-percentage shots near the rim. At times with a younger lineup, the Hoos looked a little off on defensive assignments. Isaac Vann took advantage for VCU, scoring 14 first-half points to pace the home team.
But Virginia got off to a hot start shooting themselves, making the first three three-pointers they attempted and shooting 47% in the first half, including 50% from three. Guy led the way in the first half with 10 points, and Devon Hall added eight. The Hoos took care of the ball very well in the first half with only three turnovers, and they picked up five steals and a block.
The Rams closed within four in the opening five minutes of the second half, but Ty Jerome and Guy rattled off three straight buckets to push the Wahoo advantage back to 10. Guy set his new career high with 9 minutes to go with a beautiful finger roll made possible by a Jack Salt back screen.
A VCU rally closed the Virginia advantage to only two with 8 minutes to play, with Mike’l Simms hitting a fall-away three pointer over Guy in pursuit. Virginia responded with Salt scoring off an unsettled situation and Hall stealing a pass along the baseline to get UVA back to a four-point advantage.
After a VCU bucket and an empty Virginia possession, it became the Isaiah Wilkins show. Wilkins snagged a rebound under the VCU basket and raced the length of the court, taking off from the free-throw line (making his stepfather proud) and finishing with a nice finger roll at the rim. Then at the other end, Wilkins drew his third charge of the game. A few possessions later, Wilkins got a steal and pushed the ball under the UVA basket, drawing a VCU foul.
Guy took over for the closing three minutes. A three ball pushed the Virginia lead to six, and a baseline drive the next possession led to two more points from the free throw line. Ty Jerome decided not to let his classmate have all the fun, canning a DEEP three of his own to get UVA back to a seven-point edge. Another Kyle Guy three-pointer with just 41 seconds left sealed the deal.
Vann ended the game as VCU’s leading scorer with 19, but only five coming in the second half. Jonathan Williams drove the Rams’ second-half offense, adding 12 points in the final twenty minutes.
UVA returns to action Sunday afternoon, taking on Monmouth in Charlottesville.