Barclays, Center —The Pittsburgh played with a lot grit and toughness but just came up a little short in the Legends Classic.
Brandon Johns Jr. poured in 18 points, Zeb Jackson chipped in a career-high 16 points and VCU beat Pittsburgh 71-67 on Thursday night in the consolation game of the Legends Classic.
VCU used an 11-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by senior forward David Shriver and a driving layup by Jackson to erase a six-point Pitt lead and push the Rams in front 46-41 with 10:47 left. A short time later, Hinson drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to cap a 16-6 Pitt run and give the Panthers a 57-51 lead.
In a back and forth second half, VCU had the final run, retaking the lead when Johns scored five straight points and the Rams (3-1) outscored the Panthers 15-7 over the final two minutes.
Johns put the Rams on his back in the second half, scoring 11 points in the half, and tied a career-high with nine rebounds. He connected on 9-of-11 free throws.
The Rams held Pitt to 42 percent (24-of-57) shooting in the contest, including 5-of-22 from downtown.
Blake Hinson led the Panthers (1-3) with 19 points, Jamarius Burton chipped in 14, Nelly Cummings 11 and Jorge Diaz Graham 10.
Neither team shot over 33% in the first half when the Rams led 30-24, Pitt shot 52% to VCU’s 48% in the final half. But VCU was 26 of 35 at the charity stripe, including 15 of 19 in the second half. Pitt made 14 of 21 free throws.
VCU forced 18 Pitt turnovers and converted those miscues into 23 points.
Johns scored seven straight VCU points, including a traditional three-point play in traffic, to give VCU a 61-60 lead with 1:35 remaining in the game. VCU hit 8-of-10 free throws in the final 90 seconds to keep the Panthers at a distance.
VCU was playing in the Legends Classic for the third time. The Rams have split a pair of games in each trip
The Rams lead the all-time series with Pitt, 4-2. Thursday’s game was the first between the two schools since an 84-79 Pitt overtime victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Buffalo, N.Y. on March 18, 2007
The game was Pitt Coach Jeff Capel’s third against the Rams since departing VCU in 2006. VCU is 2-1 in those games. Capel led the Rams to 79 wins and a 2004 NCAA Tournament appearance from 2002-06
VCU will hit the road on Sunday, Nov. 20 to take on Memphis at 5 p.m. EST. That game will air on ESPN+.