No. 22 VCU rolls past Duquesne 90-63
By CHRIS ADAMSKI
PITTSBURGH (AP) VCU coach Shaka Smart continues to reach some impressive NCAA coaching milestones.
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 win was the 100th for Smart, the 35-year-old Rams coach who became the second-youngest coach to reach that mark. Smart needed 131 games, 30th-fewest in NCAA history, in joining only 11 other coaches that reached 100 wins in their first four seasons.
"It shows how good of a coach he is," VCU's Treveon Graham said. "It just shows how dedicated he is to his players, and how hard he works as a coach. He deserves it."
Playing their trademark "havoc" style - VCU (16-3, 4-0 Atlantic 10) leads the nation in steals and in turnovers created - the Rams pressured and befuddled Duquesne into poor, panicked decisions.
Duquesne (7-11, 0-4) committed six of its 18 turnovers during a first-half span of 11:18 in which the Dukes scored only two points.
VCU used a 26-2 run during that time to seize control, cruising to extend what is the nation's second-longest active winning streak.
"They come at you in waves," Dukes coach Jim Ferry said. "Their pressure is immense, they take you out of your offense... They've done that to everyone they've played, including Duke.
"They're extremely difficult to prepare for, and they do great job. It's been what they do, and they do it very well."
Derrick Colter had 15 points to lead the Dukes, who have lost six straight.
Graham had 17 of his 20 points in the first half for the Rams, who are ranked this week for the first time since 1984-85.
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 manage only six points the rest of the first half.
"One thing we try to do is continue to play our style of basketball," Brandenberg said. "Whether it's the beginning of the game or the end of the first half, or even late in second half... we continue to push the ball, play our style of play, no matter what's going on. Hopefully you can get to that point, and as you can see, you can stretch it out and get a nice lead."
Only Butler's Brad Stevens, who was 34, was younger than Smart when he won his 100th game. Stevens and Smart faced each other in the 2011 Final Four.
Smart began his coaching career 13 years ago as an assistant at Division II California (Pa.), about an hour south of Pittsburgh. When asked to reflect on reaching 100 wins so quickly, Smart rattled off the names of seniors Darius Theus, Troy Daniels and David Hinton and assistant coaches Mike Rhoads and Will Wade.
"All these guys have been around the last four years teams," Smart said. "We've been able to make a lot of progress, and I think we've got a lot better since that first year.
"But other than that, we just want to win some more. If we spend too much time focusing on milestones and what your record is, then you're not focusing on the next game."
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.
The Rams, who 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.
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. First-year Dukes coach Ferry said going against VCU's style is something you can't simulate in practice.
"I think when we get our type of players in here and their experience grows, we'll be able to handle that differently," Ferry said.
Updated January 19, 2013