RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Rob Brandenburg hit an early 3-pointer and Melvin Johnson had a critical free throw with 14.2 seconds to go, and Virginia Commonwealth held off Eastern Kentucky 71-68 on Thursday night.
Treveon Graham led the Rams (7-2) with 15 points, freshman JeQuan Lewis had 13 and Johnson and Brandenburg scored 12 each as VCU battled back after falling behind for much of the second half.
Corey Walden led the Colonels (6-3) with 19 points, Glenn Cosey had 17 and Marcus Lewis 15, and the three guards also gave the Rams fits with their ability to handle VCU's trademark pressure.
Brandenburg's 3 came 28 seconds into the overtime and was the only points until Johnson, whose floater in the lane tied the game at 66 and forced the overtime, made 1 of 2 free throws with 14.2 seconds to go. Walden made a layup for the Colonels, and Briante Weber's free throw produced the final score.
A desperation 3-point try by Cosey came after the buzzer and was way off.
The Colonels had the ball with the score tied at 66, but smothering defense on the perimeter didn't let Glenn Cosey get lose. He finally tossed the ball toward the basket and 6-foot-8 Eric Stutz, but as the ball arrived, so did 0:00 on the shot clock, the 35-second clock violation giving it back to the Rams.
They set up a play for Treveon Graham, and when he made his move into the lane trying to draw contact or score from in close in the final seconds, he lost it and the Colonels' half-court heave missed.
Cosey, who had just five points at halftime, heated up with two 3s early in the second half, the second from about 25 feet. Walden added five points in an 8-2 burst that gave the Colonels a 54-48 lead.
An 18-footer by Juvonte Reddic and Rob Brandenburg's 3-pointer made it a one-point game, but Cossey scored on a drive and Lewis on a steal and layup for Eastern Kentucky to push the lead back to 58-53.
It was 60-55 when Mo Alie-Cox hit a free throw for VCU, and then Lewis made a 3-pointer from the left corner and a twisting drive 50 seconds later, giving the Rams their first lead since early in the half.
The lead changed hands three more times before Melvin Johnson's floater with 1:04 tied it.
The Colonels led for much of the first half as their guard-heavy lineup countered the Rams' press and led to several easy baskets. They scored 20 of their 36 first-half points in the paint.
VCU trailed 25-11 after nearly 11 minutes before Melvin Johnson hit his second 3-pointer, sparking a 27-11 run to end the half. The Rams held Eastern Kentucky scoreless for more than four minutes at the start, and scored the last 10 points to lead 38-36 at the intermission. Graham scored eight points in the burst, and collected a miss by driving Briante Weber in the air and laid it in at the halftime buzzer.
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