OKLAHOMA CITY -- Don't call it an upset, the VCU Rams have been here before.
Tenth-seeded VCU dominated the paint and fended off seventh-seeded Oregon State as the Rams advanced 75-67 on Friday afternoon at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Rams scored 46 points in the paint, out-rebounded Oregon State 40-28, and responded quickly and definitively to the Beavers' second-half run.
"We just know the game," Oregon State junior guard JeQuan Lewis said. "Basketball is full of runs. We kind of just took a deep breath and made our run."
Lewis scored a team-high 21 points with seven rebounds and eight assists, while forward Mo Alie-Cox added 20 points and grabbed seven boards for the Rams, who face second-seeded Oklahoma on Sunday.
Gary Payton II led the Beavers with 19 points.
But Oregon State could see early on that the Rams were having more success executing their game plan.
"We were supposed to be the team that got in the paint, either pass or dribble or post-ups and we were supposed to keep them out," Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle said. "We didn't do that very well in the first half. ... They were the more physical team out there and I thought it was a little bit of a difference."
The Rams (25-10) used an 9-1 run to regain control late in the second half. Rams guards Melvin Johnson and Lewis each hit 3-pointers and Alie-Cox had a dunk and a hit a free throw to complete a 3-point play to put VCU ahead 58-52 with 6:28 left. The Rams never trailed again.
Johnson hit just one of eight 3-pointers, but his rare connection from beyond the arc proved vital for VCU.
"It was just good to see the ball go in," Johnson said. "When JeQuan dished me that one, he yelled 'shoot,' so I had no choice."
Alie-Cox picked up his second and third fouls within four seconds of each other near the 13-minute mark of the second half.
With Alie-Cox on the bench temporarily, Oregon State immediately took advantage as Payton and fellow guard Derrick Bruce finished a fast-break give-and-go with Bruce tossing an alley-oop pass that Payton jammed home. That cut VCU's lead to six points with 12:39 left.
The Beavers (19-13) changed the momentum and took its first lead of the second half less than three minutes later. Bruce hit a pair of 3-pointers and Payton got a steal and took it coast-to-coast for a layup.
Then Oregon State forward Drew Eubanks grabbed a rebound and made a baseball pass to Payton wide open across half court. Payton launched for a one-handed dunk that put the Beavers ahead 51-49 with 9:48 left.
But Alie-Cox re-entered the game soon after and the Beavers couldn't keep VCU out of the lane.
"The offensive rebounds and and-ones demolished our momentum," Payton said. "They got about two big ones in a row and it hurt us."
Lewis used a screen from Alie-Cox to get into the lane and made a layup with four seconds remaining in the first half, extending the Rams' largest lead to eight at the break.
The Rams went on a 9-0 run midway through the first half and nudged ahead 26-20 when Lewis hit a jumper with 3:47 left until halftime.
Lewis finished the first half with seven points, four rebounds and three assists, while Alie-Cox threw down a couple of dunks on his way to a VCU-leading eight points in the first 20 minutes.
Payton led Oregon State with seven points and four rebounds in the first half. He hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 13.
Bruce nailed a trey that gave Oregon State a 20-17 lead, its largest of the first half, but it immediately preceded the Rams' key run.
NOTES: Oregon State made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990 when guard Gary Payton led the Beavers to the tourney. Payton's son, Oregon State senior G Gary Payton II, leads the Beavers in scoring at 15.9 points per game. ... VCU made its sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, joining an elite group of seven other programs that have done that entering this tourney. The Rams have also made nine NCAA Tournament appearances since 2004. ... This was the first meeting between Oregon State and VCU.