No. 4 Virginia renews rivalry against VCU
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. -- When VCU last traveled the 60 miles west to Charlottesville on interstate 64 to face Virginia, the Rams escaped John Paul Jones Arena with a 59-56 back in November of 2013.
On that night, Treveon Graham buried a three pointer with 1.1 seconds left to lift the then 14th-ranked Rams over No. 25 Virginia.
Since then, a lot has changed.
Sunday afternoon, No. 4 Virginia (8-0) will welcome VCU (7-2) back to JPJ where the Cavaliers have lost just two games to out of conference opponents since the Rams were last in town.
Virginia has also knocked off VCU twice in Richmond since the two teams last met on Virginia's home floor. Last season, Kyle Guy scored a career-high 29 points as the Cavaliers won 76-67 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Back in December of 2014, Virginia routed the Rams at the Siegel Center 74-57.
This season's matchup pits a Virginia team that has really yet to be challenged so far, against a VCU squad that has lost two games by a combined 11 points and are riding a high after a one-point win over Texas on Wednesday night.
Virginia handled Morgan State on Monday 83-45 and has now started 8-0 for the second straight season.
"It was good to see a lot of guys get the opportunity to play," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said after the win over the Bears. "We're going to need everyone."
Bennett played 13 of his 14 dressed players against Morgan State with all 13 players scoring at least one point. While a lot of the team has seen action against lesser opponents, the Cavaliers' seven or eight core guys should see the bulk of the minutes against VCU and during the rest of the season.
"Guys have played hard and got a lot of experience, so I thought it was a positive night in that regard."
Guy, who torched the Rams last season with five 3-pointers, joined sophomore De'Andre Hunter to score 15 points apiece against Morgan State.
Hunter is scoring a team-high 16.4 points per game which ranks him 10th in the ACC while shooting 60 percent from the field which is second in the conference.
The Rams have struggled to score the basketball this season but are ranked inside the top-30 in the country in scoring defense (61.6 points per game).
"It was a rock fight," VCU head coach Mike Rhoades said after his team's 54-53 win over Texas. "We made a lot of toughness plays. We played with really good energy and toughness."
That energy and toughness will need to continue against a Virginia team that continues to stifle their opponents using defense, but a team that has also shown the ability to shoot the ball this season.
The Cavaliers are averaging 75 points per game while finding themselves once again leading the nation in scoring defense (51.5 points per game).
Looking for a ton of points in this game? Look elsewhere.
Virginia leads the all-time series 12-2 in the two team's 15th matchup.
Updated December 8, 2018