No. 25 VCU steals win down stretch vs. North Texas
Marcus Evans scored 13 points and made a key steal in the final seconds to help No. 25 VCU withstand North Texas' second-half rally and earn a 59-56 victory on Friday night at Richmond, Va.
VCU led 57-56 when Evans missed two free throws with 38 seconds remaining. With a chance to tie the score, the Mean Green turned over the ball as Evans stole Umoja Gibson's bounce pass in the lane.
De'Riante Jenkins was fouled and sank two foul shots with 10 seconds left. North Texas failed to get off a good shot as time expired.
Jenkins added 12 points and Mike'L Simms (eight points) sank two key 3-pointers in the final 2:10 for the Rams (2-0) of the Atlantic 10. VCU was aided by scoring 20 unanswered points late in the first half.
DJ Draper scored 12 points on four 3-pointers for North Texas, which was seeking its first win over a ranked opponent in 48 years. Conference-USA's Mean Green (1-1) largely controlled the game's deliberate pace that hampered VCU's up-tempo attack.
After trailing by as many as 11 points in the second half, North Texas went ahead 48-47 on Draper's 3-pointer with 5:25 left.
Two free throws by Jenkins and a follow by Corey Douglas gave VCU a 51-48 lead with 3:23 left.
It was VCU's 136th consecutive sellout at the 7,500-seat Siegel Center, where it has won 13 straight games.
VCU closed the first half with a 20-2 run to build a 31-21 lead at intermission.
Senior guards Evans and Jenkins each scored eight points during the first 20 minutes. Both players sank two 3-pointers as the Rams shot 40 percent (6 of 15) from long distance.
Behind 19-11 with 9:04 remaining in the first half, the Rams scored 20 straight points during the next 8:05. VCU's matchup zone fueled the run by frustrating the North Texas half-court offense.
Javion Hamlet's jumper and 3-pointers by James Reese and Draper formed an 8-0 run that gave North Texas a 19-11 advantage 9:25 before halftime.
North Texas last defeated a ranked opponent on Feb. 27, 1971, when it beat host No. 15 Louisville 79-73.
It was the second meeting between the teams. North Texas defeated visiting VCU 89-72 on Jan. 24, 1976.
--Field Level Media
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