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Daniels' 7 3s help VCU rout Fordham, 81-65

Saturday - 2/2/2013, 11:03pm  ET

By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Troy Daniels and coach Shaka Smart had a little chat on Friday about Daniels' accountability to his teammates.

He was assuming too much, the coach recognized, and Smart wanted the player he calls the best shooter he's ever coached to relax.

Daniels got the message. He scored 29 points, including 13 during a 15-3 second-half run Saturday night, and Virginia Commonwealth overcame a sluggish start, turned 22 turnovers into 32 points and beat Fordham 81-65.

"It's not a matter of me losing confidence. It's a matter of me making shots or missing shots," Daniels said after hitting 7 of 14 from behind the arc, his fifth game with at least seven 3s this season. "I'm going to get `em up. If I'm open, I'm going to shoot. That's my job."

The results left Smart smiling, especially since Daniels, who made 20 3- pointers over consecutive games earlier this year, was 10 for 39 in his last six.

"I'm really happy for Troy, first and foremost, just to see him have a breakout game," Smart said. "He's really been pressing and being hard on himself and he wants to do well for his teammates. When he doesn't have one of his best games, he takes it very hard."

Treveon Graham added 15 points and Juvonte Reddic 11 for VCU (18-5, 6-2 Atlantic 10 Conference), which led by only eight until Daniels' jumper started the burst with 16:20 to play. Reddic hit a free throw, and Daniels scored on a layup before making three 3-pointers in the span of a minute to make it 59-40.

The first came from about 27 feet on the left wing. He followed from the left corner, and then the right.

"Last night we talked about the fact that he's not letting us down if he misses a shot," Smart said. "Hopefully that helped him tonight."

Besides Daniels, who was 10 for 19 overall, the Rams shot just 14 of 51, or 27.4 percent.

"Coming in here with no seniors, one junior and a bunch of freshmen and sophomores, I kind of knew what we were in for," Fordham coach Tom Pecora said while also praising his team's effort. "We held a team to 34 percent from the floor and we got beat by 20, or 16, or whatever it was.

"They average 20 turnovers a game, and we obliged."

Bryan Smith scored 17 points and Mandell Thomas 16 for Fordham (6-15, 2-5), which again played without injured senior forward Chris Gaston because of injury. The Rams have lost five of their last six.

VCU opened the second half on a 7-0 run to lead 45-33, but Travion Leonard scored inside and Thomas hit a jumper for Fordham, which looked like it was sensing a chance to steal a conference game on the road.

But the visiting Rams, who opened the second half with four consecutive turnovers, gave it away three more times during VCU's game-changing burst, and only a 3-pointer by Smith interrupted Daniels' showcase, which included 3-pointers from very deep on the left wing, the left corner and then the right corner.

When Reddic added a free throw with 12:05 to play, it was 60-40 and VCU cruised to the finish.

VCU played the game without lightly used backup center D.J. Haley, who was not on the bench. Smart said Haley had requested some time away to deal with some personal and family matters, and that he didn't know when the 7-footer would rejoin the team.

The first half looked like a case of an overconfident team meeting one intent on pulling an upset.

VCU led 22-14 after Daniels hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then went cold as Fordham put together an 11-3 run, getting scoring from five players, and pulled even at 25-25 with 6:55 to play.

Darius Theus' 3-pointer broke the tie, and Graham hit two right behind him, a quick 9-0 burst that also featured four consecutive turnovers by Fordham and seemingly put VCU on the brink of control. But again, the Rams stalled, and Fordham closed to within 38-33 by halftime.

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