No. 23 Cincinnati holds on for 69-63 win at VCU
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Playing in his hometown, Troy Caupain helped No. 23 Cincinnati to a big road win.
Caupain and Farad Cobb had 15 points apiece, and the Bearcats held on for a 69-63 victory over VCU on Saturday.
“I already knew how loud it was coming into it,” Caupain said. “I personally was well prepared for it. It was good smelling the Richmond air one more time and actually taking a step onto the court in a Cincinnati uniform.”
The Bearcats (10-2) led 57-47 before the Rams scored eight straight points in a 90-second span to pull within two. But JeQuan Lewis and Mo Alie-Cox missed potential tying shots, and Caupain found Cobb for a 3-pointer.
“I felt like we were comfortable when we were up 10, but then they went on a run,” Cobb said. “That was a big shot to give us a little cushion.”
Korey Billbury led the Rams (5-5) with 22 points and nine rebounds. Lewis had 13 points, and Alie-Cox added 10.
Billbury made two foul shots to get VCU within one with 10:52 left, but Cincinnati responded with an 11-3 run. Caupain kicked it off with a layup and Clark’s dunk with 5:55 left made it 55-46 Bearcats.
Caupain made four foul shots in the final 44 seconds to help Cincinnati hold on for its second straight win since a 65-55 loss to rival Xavier. The Bearcats went 21 for 24 at the line in the second half and 30 for 35 for the game.
“We had to get to the foul line,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “That was our only chance. You can’t run offense against a team that pressures the ball the way they pressure the ball today. We got to the foul line and we converted. That was really the story of our second-half game plan.”
VCU, meanwhile, went 16 of 25 from the foul line. The Rams also shot 34 percent (20 for 59) from the field.
“We shot it close to the rim,” coach Will Wade said. “We didn’t jack a bunch of 3s. We didn’t throw the ball all over the court, and we had a chance to set our defense. But we missed three front ends of one-and-ones.
“All those things, they add up when you play teams that are supremely talented. We’ve got good players, but we need some guys to step up and make some plays. It’s as simple as that.”
Cincinnati’s Gary Clark scored nine of his 13 points in the second half. He also had nine rebounds.
Melvin Johnson, VCU’s leading scorer at 19.6 points per game coming into the day, went 0 for 11 from the field and finished with two points.
“We switch a lot, so screening for him is kind of irrelevant against us,” Cronin said. “We’re just going to switch it, and a lot of times, we switch a bigger guy onto him, which is harder for him to shoot over.”
Freshman Jacob Evans III added nine points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots for Cincinnati, which had a 42-37 rebounding edge. Cobb went 3 for 4 from 3-point range.
VCU has lost three in a row and is running out of opportunities to secure a signature nonconference victory after narrow losses to Duke, Wisconsin, Florida State and Georgia Tech.
“We’ve taken on a brutal schedule with a team that’s still growing,” Wade said. “It’s going to help us in conference. It’s going to get better as we move forward.”
Cincinnati: Caupain attended Cosby High School in the Richmond suburbs. ... Cincinnati and VCU are two of 11 teams to make it to the NCAA Tournament each of the past five seasons.
VCU: Starting forward Jordan Burgess missed the game with a concussion. Sophomore Michael Gilmore started in his place.
Former Virginia, Providence and Xavier coach Pete Gillen called the game for CBS Sports. Gillen is familiar with both programs — Xavier is Cincinnati’s biggest rival, and he earned his first victory at Virginia against VCU.
Cincinnati hosts No. 5 Iowa State on Tuesday.
VCU hosts Buffalo on Tuesday.