Richmond, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Treveon Graham had 24 points and 10 rebounds and No. 25 VCU rallied in the second half to record a 78-72 win over Massachusetts in an important Atlantic 10 clash.
The Rams put together a 17-5 run midway through the final period after briefly relinquishing the lead, with Mo-Alie Cox netting eight of his 12 points during the surge to help VCU (21-6, 11-3 A-10) keep a hold on first place in the conference with its third straight victory.
JeQuan Lewis added 15 points for the Rams.
Massachusetts (16-11, 9-5) turned an 11-point deficit into a 48-47 lead after going on a 12-0 tear prior to VCU's game-changing sequence, but was ultimately done in by 19 turnovers which the Rams converted into 24 points.
Jabarie Hinds topped four Minutemen in double figures with 16 points and Trey Davis finished with 14 in the loss, UMass' second straight following a six- game win streak in A-10 play. Cady Lalanne ended with 13 points and eight rebounds and Demetrius Dyson posted 12 points and 10 boards.
VCU, which led by as many as 16 points in the first half, went scoreless for more than five minutes during the Minutemen's go-ahead spurt before Jordan Burgess ended the drought with a 3-pointer that put the Rams back on top at 50-48 with 11:12 remaining.
Alie-Cox followed with six straight points around a Hinds basket, and a dunk by Jarred Guest lengthened the Rams' margin to 58-50 with 7 1/2 minutes left.
"(Alie-Cox) was a big part of our turning point because he was kind of sluggish earlier in the game," VCU head coach Shaka Smart said. "You could just see it on his face. He wasn't himself. He was really able to get himself going with energy and enthusiasm and talk."
Davis answered with a 3-pointer, but VCU responded with a 6-0 flurry and grabbed a 64-53 advantage on Burgess' steal and layup with 5:19 to play.
The Minutemen were able to make it a one-possession game in the final minute, as Hinds scored in front of a corner trey from Davis that brought UMass within 70-67. However, VCU stayed in front by going 8-of-8 from the foul line in the last 41 seconds.
"I was happy the way our guys responded," UMass head coach Derek Kellogg said. "I thought we came back and fought and scrapped. We needed to make a few more plays down the stretch."
VCU had its patented pressure working early on, forcing turnovers on six of the Minutemen's first nine possessions while racing out to a 13-2 lead. UMass didn't record its initial points until Derrick Gordon converted a layup nearly 5 1/2 minutes in.
The Rams appeared en route to a runaway win after Graham's 3-point play preceded Doug Brooks' fast-break layup that put the Minutemen down 27-11 with 6:52 to go in the opening half.
Massachusetts was able to change momentum prior to the end of the period, however. The Minutemen closed out the frame on a 10-3 run, capped by Hinds' jumper just before the buzzer, to cut its deficit to 35-30 at the break.
VCU began the second half on fire from the perimeter, sinking four 3-pointers -- the first two from Graham -- over the first four minutes to expand the lead to 47-36. The Rams then went cold, missing five straight shots and turning it over three times as UMass came roaring back.
After a Hinds triple trimmed VCU's advantage to 47-44, the Minutemen recorded transition buckets on consecutive possessions to go in front with 12:24 to play.
Lewis has averaged 13.7 points in six games after taking over as the Rams' point guard following Briante Weber's season-ending knee injury on Jan. 31 ... UMass finished with a 39-30 rebounding advantage ... Graham went 11-of-13 from the foul line ... VCU has won three of its four meetings with the Minutemen since joining the A-10 in 2012-13.