Check out these articles previewing the UMass-GW basketball game on Sunday.
• Springfield Republican: UMass basketball team hopes to erase the taste of a bad road trip
• Daily Hampshire Gazette: UMass hopes to start win streak against Colonials
• Daily Collegian: Colonials March into Amherst for Leaman Legacy Game
• Daily Collegian: Denying opponent's shots from beyond the arc key for UM
UMass hopes to start win streak against Colonials
AMHERST - With a week off since their loss at Saint Joseph's, University of Massachusetts junior center Sean Carter said the Minutemen used the time effectively as they'll try to snap their two-game losing streak against George Washington at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Mullins Center.
"We're getting back to things we worked on before, picking up our defensive intensity, especially on 3-pointers," said Carter, who thought the team's hunger had been rekindled after last week's back-to-back losses. "We had a few wins in a row and I think we got comfortable. That's the worst thing you can do. We're back and ready to go for Sunday."
Senior Anthony Gurley echoed his teammate's sentiments.
"We have an import stretch of the season coming up. We slipped up last week. We lost two games we knew we could have won," Gurley said. "We're looking forward to getting back on track on Sunday. We're all eager for a win and ready to do whatever it takes to get it."
UMass coach Derek Kellogg said the team used practices on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to focus on his own team, and planned to prepare for GW on Friday and Saturday.
"It was more like a preseason practice. We were really able to get after each other. The competition was really good," he said. "It was good to get after it a little bit. It was a good time to get a break and now it's a good time to get back after it to see if the week off helped this team."
The Minutemen (13-9, 5-4 Atlantic 10) are currently in sixth place in the conference, a half game behind Rhode Island (6-4) and a half game ahead of both Dayton and George Washington, who are both 5-5. The top four teams get byes in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, while teams five through eight get home games in the first round. "This is a big stretch for us. The records in the Atlantic 10 are so close right now. It's so wide open," Carter said. "Everybody wants to get a home game for the tournament. That's what we're definitely playing for right now."
Like the Minutemen, George Washington (12-12, 5-5 Atlantic 10) has mixed winning streaks with losing ones. The Colonials won five straight beginning on New Year's Eve, but followed that with four consecutive losses. They're 2-2 in their last four with wins over Saint Louis and Charlotte and losses to Duquesne and Richmond.
Point guard Tony Taylor leads GW in scoring (14.8 per game) and assists (4.5 per game). Forward Dwayne Smith (9.1 ppg, 5.1 rebounds per game) and Joseph Katuka (8.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) are the team's next most productive players.
"The league is pretty balanced. Every game could go either way depending on how we play and whether we do the little things," Kellogg said. "Sunday is a big game for us to see how we stack up against a team that has a similar record to us."
The game is the Leaman Legacy Game, that honors beloved former coach and broadcaster Jack Leaman. According to associate athletic director Tim Kenney, in five years the event has raised about $87,000 for the Leaman Legacy Fund, which raises money for athletic scholarships.
NOTES - The game pits the league's worst 3-point defense (GW opponents shoot 37.5 percent) against its worst 3-point shooting team (UMass shoots 29.2 percent). ... Lasan Kromah, GW's leading scorer last year who had 22 points against UMass, is out for the season with a foot injury. ... Gurley needs one 3-pointer to match Kellogg, who is eighth on UMass' career list with 138. James Life is seventh with 148. A big night could rocket Gurley up the career scoring list as several players are within range. He's currently No. 23 with 1,208. He needs 27 points to catch No. 18 Al Skinner. To get there he'd pass No. 21 Jim Town (1,211), No. 21 Anthony Anderson (1,211), No. 20 Ray Ellerbrook (1,224) and No. 19 Donta Bright (1,229). Gurley as scored at least 27 twice this season. ... GW is 13th in the Atlantic 10 in free throw shooting at 63 percent.