CINCINNATI — Troy Daniels scored 19 points, and No. 24 Virginia Commonwealth intensified its full-court defense and overcome a 17-point in the second half Saturday for a 75-71 victory over Xavier, which missed its injured point guard down the stretch.
VCU (22-6, 10-3 Atlantic 10) forced 22 turnovers – 12 of them in the second half during the big comeback. Daniels set a school record for 3-pointers in a season while leading the comeback.
Rob Brandenberg added 18 points and scored the Rams' final six, including a pair of free throws with 10.8 seconds left that clinched it.
The Musketeers (15-11, 8-5) played the final 13 minutes, 35 seconds without point guard Dee Davis, who was hit in the forehead and got a cut above his right eye. He left for treatment with Xavier up by five points and never returned.
Davis and Brad Redford finished with 15 points apiece for Xavier, which came into the game as the only team still unbeaten at home in A-10 games. VCU became only the second A-10 team to win at the Cintas Center since 2007, along with Saint Louis.
The Musketeers are 52-2 in A-10 home games since 2007.
The Rams were coming off a 76-62 loss at Saint Louis that snapped a five-game winning streak and showed the way to beat them – handle the full-court pressure. VCU leads the nation in steals and forced turnovers, leading to a lot of easy points.
Xavier handled the pressure for a half. The Musketeers shot 73.7 percent from the field (14 of 19) while taking a 39-26 lead into halftime. Semaj Christon had a steal and dunk that pushed it to 43-26 early in the second half.
Then, it all fell apart for Xavier.
The Rams were only 2 of 17 from behind the arc in the first half, preventing them from getting into their full-court pressure. Daniels' back-to-back 3s got them into a comfort zone and started a 10-point run. VCU went 6 of 11 behind the arc in the second half.
Davis got hit above his right eye while trying to get through a trap off an inbound pass. He left the game for treatment with 13:35 to go and Xavier ahead 48-43. Treveon Graham hit a baseline shot and a 3-pointer as VCU got its first lead, 50-48, completing a 24-5 run.
There were three ties and nine lead changes down the stretch. Brandenberg hit a floater in the lane and a pair of free throws that put VCU up 73-68 with 26 seconds left, the Rams' biggest lead.
Xavier's Justin Martin hit a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left, but Brandenberg made two more free throws to finish it off.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay