Texas holds off VCU 71-67 in Smart’s return to Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Shaka Smart strolled onto the Siegel Center floor to a standing ovation, and then his new team beat his old team before a sold out crowd.

Texas (6-2) defeated VCU 71-67 Tuesday night in a game marked by impressive VCU comebacks in both halves.

Texas freshman Mohamed Bamba scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the contest. He also got the Longhorns going in the first half with a tremendous on-handed slam to extend their first half lead to double digits at 19-8.

The Texas lead eventually grew to 14 in the first half, but VCU (5-4) was able to forge a comeback. Senior forward Justin Tillman scored 15 of his 22 before halftime, and the Rams pulled to within six before a Texas bucket gave the Longhorns a 40-32 lead at the half.

Bamba was dominant again in the second half as two quick dunks helped Texas build a 13-point lead. Longhorns’ sophomore guard Andrew Jones scored 19 points in the game, and the ‘Horns’ lead eventually extended to 19 at 57-38 with 11:58 to play.

Cue the Rams’ second comeback.

VCU went on a 25-5 run over the ensuing 8:04 and took a 63-62 lead on a Khris Lane three-pointer with 3:54 to play. The Rams did not score for the next 3:11.

Bamba knocked down two free throws to give Texas the lead at 64-63, and the key play was a three-pointer by Dylan Osetkowski with 0:58 to play to give the Longhorns a four-point lead at 67-63. Forced to foul, VCU simply could not get enough offense to even out the free throws, and Texas was able to hold off the Rams for a 71-67 victory.

Osetkowski finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for Texas. Tillman led VCU with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Lane added 15 points for the Rams and De’riante Jenkins scored 12, 11 of them in the second half.

By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Andrew Jones scored 19 points and Dylan Osetkowski added 17 Tuesday night and Texas beat VCU in Shaka Smart’s return to the Richmond school, 71-67

Smart, who coached the Rams for six seasons and won 163 games as their coach, claimed career victory No. 200.

Texas (6-2) led 57-38 with 12 minutes left, then almost gave the game away. VCU (5-4) used a 25-5 run to take the lead at 63-62.

Mohamed Bamba made a pair of free throws with 1:34 remaining – Texas’ first points in more than four minutes – to give the Longhorns the lead back, and Osetkowski followed a VCU miss with a 3-pointer.

After a free throw by Mike’l Simms for VCU, free throws by Kerwin Roach II and Eric Davis Jr. pushed Texas’ lead to 69-64.

De’Riante Jenkins hit a 3-pointer for the Rams with 18 seconds left, but Davis sealed it for Texas with a pair of free throws with 13.8 seconds on the clock.

THE BIG PICTURE

Texas: The Longhorns were 0-11 in true road games last season and picked a very difficult venue to play their first true road game this season. When VCU took the lead with 3:51 remaining, the noise was deafening at the Siegel Center, but two free throws by Bamba seemed to calm the Longhorns.

VCU: The Rams are an improving 3-point shooting team and got themselves back in the game from beyond the arc. Khris Lane made four 3-pointers in the second half and De’Riante Jenkins made one with 18.5 seconds left to get them within 69-67.

UP NEXT

Texas is back home against Michigan next Tuesday.

VCU faces Seton Hall in the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, New Jersey.