Republican: Things Looking Up For Hoops - UMass Athletics

Republican: Things Looking Up For Hoops

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Ron Chimelis of the Springfield Republican has a story on the men's hoop team and how the Minutemen are playing better and moving in the right direction.

In many respects, it was their best game of the year. First, the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team put aside the unsettling nature of an emergency landing on the way to Olean, N.Y.

The Minutemen then turned in a complete effort, winning 78-69 at St. Bonaventure Wednesday night in a game they controlled for most of the 40 minutes.

"I wouldn't say it was the best we could play, but maybe almost,'' UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

Even after scary flight, things are looking up for UMass basketball

Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011, 5:12 PM     Updated: Thursday, January 27, 2011, 5:18 PM
Anthony GurleyAnthony Gurley is on the verge of becoming one of the top 25 scorers in UMass basketball history.

AMHERST - In many respects, it was their best game of the year.

First, the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team put aside the unsettling nature of an emergency landing on the way to Olean, N.Y.

The Minutemen then turned in a complete effort, winning 78-69 at St. Bonaventure Wednesday night in a game they controlled for most of the 40 minutes.

"I wouldn't say it was the best we could play, but maybe almost,'' UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

"We attacked offensively, and did a good job defensively. I didn't know if we could cover (Andrew) Nicholson), but we did a little bit of zone and some double-teaming.

"It was a weird couple of days. Our seniors stepped up and played well.''

One day after making an abrupt stop in Albany, N.Y., after smoke was found in the cockpit of its charter plane, UMass stayed overnight Wednesday.

The alternative was to fly back after the game on the same plane that had experienced problems, a team official said.

With its 12th victory, UMass matched its total in each of Kellogg's first two seasons. The Minutemen are 12-7, with a 4-2 Atlantic 10 Conference record.

St. Bonaventure led only once, at 3-0. Bonnies' big man Nicholson was held to 11 points, just over half his 20-point average, on 4-for-11 shooting. 

The UMass defense held the Bonnies to eight first-half field goals. Only two came from inside the 3-point arc.

Bonnies' guard Ogo Adegboye assisted on seven his team's eight first-half baskets. In the second half, UMass shut him off as well.

Adegboye had no assists and two turnovers in the second half.

Offensively, the story for UMass was Anthony Gurley, who took over the game in the second half and finished wth 28 points.

Gurley is among the nation's top 25 scorers. He is averaging 20.4 points per game, and has 58 in his last two games.

Among his teammates, only Javorn Farrell (10.1 ppg.) joins Gurley in double figures. Not only is Gurley carrying the scoring, he also had four assists Wednesday, and a couple were dazzling. 

Gurley had seven points in a 12-2 run that turned a 45-43 lead into a 57-45 bulge. Sampson Carter had a 3-point basket in the sequence.

Carter had six points, nine rebounds and several hustling loose-ball retrievals for UMass, which won a 39-32 rebounding battle and outscored the Bonnies 46-22 in the paint.

In one night, Gurley passed Chris Lowe, Rodger Twitchell, Will Herndon and Lari Ketner on the all-time UMass scoring list. He was 1,158 points as a UMass player. 

With six more, he'll pass Rafer Giles and move into 25th place all-time at UMass. Typically, Gurley spoke about team performance after the game, not his own.

"We're 4-2, and the losses came to two good, legitimate teams (Xavier and Richmond),'' the senior guard said.

"The next one is a big game. We really need this one.''

UMass plays Rhode Island at the Mullins Center Sunday.

The Minutemen are 87th in the RPI power rankings. They are not in NCAA tournament contention, but the NIT and two other, lesser postseason tournaments are reachable. 

For this program, whose only postseason appearances since 1998 are three NIT bids, any such invitations would represent a step forward.

For a team whose schedule has been criticized as soft, UMass also ranks 56th in NCAA strength of schedule - out of 345 Division I teams.

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