Freshman Melvin Johnson scored a career-high 18 points, 13 in the second half, as VCU pulled away to beat Massachusetts 86-68 Thursday before the Rams' 32nd consecutive sellout crowd at Siegel Center.
The Rams (20-5, 8-2) took over first place in the Atlantic 10 by a half-game over Saint Louis.
UMass led 42-37 after an up-and-down first half but came unglued after intermission against the Rams' "Havoc" pressure defense. VCU outscored UMass 37-11 to begin the second half.
The Rams' Treveon Graham led all scorers with 19 points.
Raphiael Putney led the Minutemen (16-7, 6-4) with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Freddie Riley finished with 12 points. Chaz Williams scored just six points on 1-of-7 shooting but had nine rebounds and seven assists.
Vertrail Vaughns scored 14 points, leading four Patriots in double figures, as George Mason beat Drexel in Colonial Athletic Association action in Philadelphia.
Erik Copes added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Patriots (15-10, 8-5 CAA), followed by Sherrod Wright and Corey Edwards with 11 and 10 points, respectively, as they won for the third time in the last four outings and avenged a home loss to Drexel in which they play a big second-half lead.
Damion Lee and Derrick Thomas both delivered 16 points for the Dragons (10-15, 6-7), while Frantz Massenat chipped in 13 points but shot just 4-of-16 from the floor. Daryl McCoy cleared 12 rebounds in the setback.
NN's Lyons sparks Air Force past UNLV
Late Wednesday, Newport News’ Michael Lyons scored 27 points as host Air Force (15-8, 6-4 Mountain West ) beat Nevada Las Vegas for the first time in their last 12 meetings, 71-56 in Colorado.
The Falcons, wearing camouflage shorts and matching tops, got lots of back-door layups.
"The way we practiced, we expected to come out and play the way we did," said Lyons, a Woodside High graduate. "It was maybe a little shocking to see them not go as hard, and maybe we just took their hearts away.”