- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Justin Tillman had the kind of night where he felt like he could close his eyes, throw the ball toward the basket and expect it to go in.

“I guess you could say that,” the 6-foot-7 sophomore said Wednesday night after making 11 of 14 shots and scoring a career-high 27 points as VCU routed Fordham 88-54 to stretch its winning streak to seven games.

Tillman scored the first 14 of his points during an 8 ½-minute burst in the first half as the Rams put together a 32-11 run to open a 47-19 lead.

“This is the type of game he’s really effective in,” VCU coach Will Wade said. “He can hide along the baseline and dunk balls and guys can find him off penetration.”

It helps, point guard JeQuan Lewis said, that Tillman is faster than most big men in the Atlantic 10.

“When we see him running the court, we just try to push it as fast as we can and it opens up everything,” Lewis said.

Tillman got the big run going with a layup, dunk and putback in succession, and added two free throws, a baseline jumper, another layup and another dunk during the next few minutes as the Rams put together their most efficient offensive performance of the season. They finished shooting 61 percent (33-54).

Melvin Johnson added 15 points for the Rams (12-5, 4-0 Atlantic 10), whose only losses have come against ranked or Power Five conference teams.

Mandell Thomas scored 13 to lead Fordham (10-5, 1-3), which shot under 30 percent for much of the game and committed 18 turnovers. The giveaways led to 28 points for VCU, which also enjoyed a 44-24 scoring advantage in the paint and a 22-5 edge on fast break points.

“I think a lot of credit goes to their defense,” Fordham coach Jeff Neubauer said. “They just wouldn’t let us do anything that we wanted to do.”

Tillman, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, easily eclipsed his previous high of 18 points scored in a loss at Georgia Tech earlier this season.

The Rams already led 12-8 when they really clamped down on defense and got their fast-paced offensive attack clicking.

Holding Fordham scoreless for 5:39, the Rams scored nine straight points to gain some separation and never let up, leading by as many as 37 points.



VCU backup point guard Jonathan Williams made a buzzer-beating, 3-point heave to end the first half. It was his first career 3-pointer.


Fordham: Neubauer called four of his five timeouts in the first 13:17 of the game and had just one left for the second half.

VCU: Five Rams made at least one 3-pointer in the first half, when VCU was 7 for 12 from behind the arc. VCU finished 10 for 20 from long range.


Fordham plays at Saint Joseph’s on Saturday.

VCU plays at cross-town rival Richmond on Saturday.


Follow Hank on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr


The AP’s college basketball page: www.collegebasketball.ap.org

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