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Shaka Smart’s Texas team beats VCU 71-67 at Siegel Center

Fred Jeter | 12/8/2017, 5:36 p.m.
Coach Shaka Smart has proven he can win as both the home and visiting coach at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel ...
Coach Smart, Coach Rhoades

Coach Shaka Smart has proven he can win as both the home and visiting coach at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center.

Now in his third season coaching at the University of Texas, Coach Smart and his Longhorns rallied to beat a furious VCU Rams comeback to win 71-67 Tuesday night at the sold out and raucous facility on West Broad Street.

Texas led 55-38 with 13:34 left. But VCU Coach Mike Rhoades’ Rams battled back to take the lead, 63-62, on a Khris Lane 3-pointer at 3:54, with the building going crazy.

The Longhorns went back on top, 64-63, at 1:31 on a pair of free throws by Mohamed Bamba. Texas stretched the lead to 67-63 with 0:58 left on a 3-point shot by Ryan Osetkowski.

The Rams couldn’t make up the difference.

The Rams are now 5-4, while Texas improves to 6-2.

VCU was led by Justin Tillman with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Lane added 15 points and Di’Riante Jenkins, 12.

Freshman Marcus Santos-Silva contributed eight points and six rebounds off the bench.

Bamba, Texas’ 6-foot-11 freshman from Harlem, had 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.

It was an emotional homecoming for Coach Smart, who posted a 163-56 record for VCU between 2009 and 2015, while guiding the Rams to the 2011 NCAA Final Four.

A clause in Coach Smart’s contract at VCU required him to return to Richmond for a home game if he left VCU before his pact expired.

He is the first former VCU coach to prevail under those circumstances. Coaches Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant weren’t so fortunate. On Dec. 12, 2008, Coach Jeff Capel’s Oklahoma Sooners lost 81-70 to VCU, while Coach Grant’s Alabama Crimson Tide was beaten by the Rams 73-54 in Richmond on Dec. 15, 2012.

It doesn’t end here.

Former VCU Coach Will Wade (2015-2017), who is now at Louisiana State University, will bring his Tigers to Richmond at some unspecified future date.

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