RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Justin Tillman tied a career high with 27 points on 13-for-17 shooting to lead VCU to a 95-85 win over North Florida on Monday night.
Khris Lane and Issac Vann added 17 points apiece for VCU (2-0) and Jonathan Williams had 11 points to go with eight assists. The Rams shot 51.4 percent from the field and dominated at the free throw line, hitting 16 of 24 to North Florida’s 4 for 4.
Trailing 40-36 late in the opening half, VCU took the lead for good during a 7-0 spurt. Vann had the go-ahead layup with 3:11 left and the Rams took a 50-45 advantage into the break.
North Florida (0-3) stayed close, cutting the deficit to 88-85 with Noah Horchier’s bucket with 2:56 to play, but missed five shots in the final 2:24, including four 3-point attempts, as VCU sealed it with a Jonathan Williams’ layup and 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line.
J.T. Escobar’s 23 points led five North Florida players in double figures.
The following is additional information directly from VCU:
TILLMAN IGNITES RAMS TO HIGH-OCTANE WIN, 2-0 START
Score: VCU 95, North Florida 85
Location: Richmond, Va. (E.J. Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center)
Records: VCU 2-0, North Florida 0-3
Attendance: 7,637 (101st consecutive sellout)
The short story: Senior forward Justin Tillman dropped a career-high-tying 27 points as VCU withstood sharp-shooting North Florida Monday night to improve to 2-0.
· Tillman was too much for the North Florida’s undersized front line. He scored 12 of VCU’s first 14 points and was 9-of-9 from the floor in the first half. Tillman finished 13-of-17 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds.
· Sophomore Issac Vann and senior Khris Lane scored 17 points apiece and combined for 15 rebounds for VCU.
· Senior point guard Johnny Williams provided 11 points and a career-high eight assists for the Rams. He was 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Williams was also crucial down the stretch for VCU Monday.
· North Florida’s JT Escobar led the Ospreys with 21 points and buried 7-of-11 from behind the arc. Garret Sams posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Ospreys.
· VCU scored the final eight points of the game, including a critical floater by Williams with under a minute to play, to put away the Ospreys.
· The Rams led 84-73 with 7:14 left, but North Florida got a 3-pointer from Sams and a layup by Noah Horchler on back-to-back trips down the floor to draw within 88-85 with 2:56 on the clock.
· In the first half, Escobar gave North Florida its largest lead, at 36-32 following a Horchler offensive rebound. But VCU chipped away. The Rams used a 7-0 burst to retake the lead, and Vann buried a 3-pointer from the left corner as time expired to send VCU to the locker room with a 50-45 halftime lead.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
· Tillman has scored 41 points in 41 minutes of play this season.
· VCU has scored 94 and 95 points in its first two games, respectively, of the 2017-18 season. It’s the first time the Black and Gold has scored 90 in consecutive games since dropping 94 and 93 on Richmond and Duquesne, respectively, during the 2015-16 season. The Rams also scored 98 points against Virginia Union in their final exhibition contest on Nov. 3.
· North Florida drained 9-of-18 from distance in the first half, and ended the night 17-of-40 (.425) from beyond the arc.
· VCU shot 37-of-72 (.514) from the floor, scoring 56 of its points in the paint.
· The Ospreys coughed up 16 turnovers to the Rams’ nine, resulting in 23 points for the Black and Gold.
VCU will host 2-0 Virginia on Friday, Nov. 17 at the Siegel Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. CBS Sports Network will broadcast the contest.