The Massachusetts men's basketball team opens Atlantic 10 Conference action this week, playing host to Saint Joseph's at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.
The Minutemen were picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll of coaches and media. Saint Joseph's was picked fifth. Last season, UMass went 9-7 and SJU went 8-8.
This is the 105th season of UMass Basketball. UMass has an all-time record of 1,219-1,072 (.537) in 2,291 games. UMass is 448-308 (.593) in conference games, including a 284-288 in Atlantic 10 play. The Minutemen have claimed 15 regular-season conference championships and five tournament titles.
The 2013-14 season marks the sixth for head coach Derek Kellogg ... Kellogg starred as a point guard for the Minutemen from 1992-95, playing for coach John Calipari ... Kellogg spent a year as a graduate assistant with Bruiser Flint at UMass, two years at George Mason with Jim Larranaga and eight at Memphis with Calipari, culminating with the 2008 NCAA Runner-up season ... UMass' win totals under Kellogg have gone 12, 12, 15, 25 and 21 last season with a second-consecutive NIT appearance.
The Last Meeting
February 9, 2013
GENERAL RPI & SOS INFO
As we get ready to begin conference play, a check of the various RPI numbers shows UMass is ranked No. 5 by ESPN Insider RPI, CBS Sports, RealTimeRPI.com and StatSheet.com, No. 24 by Jeff Sagarin and No. 28 by Ken Pomeroy.
The Minutemen's strength of schedule is No. 1 by ESPN, No. 7 by CBS, No. 8 by RealTime RPI, No. 13 by Stat Sheet, No. 19 by Jeff Sagarin and No. 39 by Ken Pomeroy.
ATLANTIC 10 OPENERS
UMass enters the game with a 17-20 record in conference openers dating back to the 1976-77 ECBL season - the first year of what is now the Atlantic 10. The Minutemen are 10-11 in openers at home and 7-9 in road openers. This marks the fifth time in the last eight seasons to begin league play in Amherst. UMass and Saint Joseph's are meeting for the fifth time in a conference lid-lifter, with the Hawks holding a 3-1 record.
Prior to last season's 70-62 loss at Saint Louis, the Minutemen had won all four openers under Derek Kellogg.
SERIES HISTORY WITH SAINT JOSEPH'S
This will be the 63rd meeting between UMass and Saint Joseph's, with UMass holding a 33-29 lead all-time.
UMass has won five of the last seven games, including the last four in Amherst. The home team has won the last six games. The home team is 38-21 in the series.
The Minutemen hold a 20-10 advantage in Amherst and 12-7 in the Mullins Center.
UMass is 10-1 against Saint Joseph's when playing as a ranked team.
This will be UMass head coach Derek Kellogg's tenth game coaching against the Hawks with a record of 6-3 (He also went 10-1 as a player). Phil Martelli took over as head coach at SJU in 1995-96 - the year UMass made the Final Four - and stands at 15-17 all-time against the Minutemen.
UMASS TOUGH IN THE MULLINS CENTER
UMass is unbeaten in the Mullins Center this year with a 5-0 record. Over the past three seasons, the Minutemen are 23-5 in regular-season games and 12-4 in Atlantic 10 contests in the facility.
UMass finished its regular-season non-conference slate last weekend with a win over Miami (Ohio) and has compiled a 15-1 record with a current eight-game winning streak.
The Minutemen have been strong during the winter break as well, winning their last 10 non-league games when the classes are not in session.
UMASS RETURNS TO ASSOCIATED PRESS & COACHES POLLS FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1998
Following last Saturday's 73-65 win over Miami (Ohio), UMass moved up a few spots in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, coming in at No. 19 in both listings. UMass received 364 points in the AP and 265 in the coaches poll.
When the Minutemen debuted in the rankings this season, it ended a drought that dated back to Nov. 1998 in each poll. This week's showing marks the first foray in the Top 20 in both polls since Feb. 24, 1998.
UMass has now appeared in the AP Poll 84 times and is 121-30 all-time as a ranked team. The Minutemen have been ranked in the top 10 48 times, the top five 31 times and No. 1 15 times (32-4).
CHAZ IS LIKE A FINE WINE, HE GETS BETTER WITH AGE
Chaz Williams continues to impress with his on-court talents year-in and year-out. While his scoring has been consistently strong throughout his college career, his shooting percentages are at or near all-time highs and his assist-to-turnover numbers are at an all-time high.
Year MPG PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG TPG A/TO Ratio
2009-10 31.7 9.8 .372 .389 .733 4.2 2.5 1.64
2011-12 34.9 16.9 .410 .419 .788 6.2 3.4 1.83
2012-13 35.3 15.5 .433 .333 .785 7.3 3.4 2.12
2013-14 34.7 15.5 .403 .426 .743 7.7 3.3 2.33
He has 16 double-figure assist games in his career and 14 at UMass, one shy of Carl Smith's record set from 1983-87.
CARTER PERFORMING AT HIGHEST LEVEL OF HIS CAREER
Redshirt senior Sampson Carter entered the year averaging 6.1 points per game over 102 appearances, but has played like a senior who wants to go out with a bang. He is scoring a career-best 12.3 ppg, while his shooting averages - .430 FG%, .341 3FG% and .764 FT% - are all career-highs or close to his season best.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY... Maxie Esho
Redshirt junior Maxie Esho, who has been described as the X-factor by head coach Derek Kellogg at times, is producing at a high level with 8.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg, ahead of his previous season benchmarks of 5.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg set last year. He has raised both categories each of the past two seasons and had three-consecutive double-figure scoring games for the first time in his career prior to the Florida State game. He also went off at Ohio with game highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. He became the sixth different Minuteman to lead the team in scoring this season.
In the last six games, he is UMass' second leading scorer and rebounder at 11.6 ppg and 6.3 rpg. His field goal percentage is tops on the team during that span at .674 (29-for-43) and he has five of his six double-figure scoring games.
UMASS PLAYING WITH A LEAD... A LOT
Part of the UMass formula for success through 13 games has been to not fall behind. In 525 minutes, the Minutemen have trailed for a total of 60:35 - just 11.5 pct. of the season.
Furthermore, UMass has used its pressing, attacking style to wear down opponents and pull away in the second half. UMass has only trailed for 14:44 of the second half this year, with 5:46 coming in the opener against BC, 4:40 at Eastern Michigan, 3:50 vs. Florida State and 0:28 vs. Providence. It is outscoring teams by an average of 37.6-33.2 in the first half and 41.3-36.4 in the second half.
SCORING POINTS IN BUNCHES
UMass is averaging 79.7 points per game, which places it first in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 49th nationally. The Minutemen set a school record when they surpassed 80 points in each of their opening five games. They have since accomplished the feat in eight of 12 games.
The Minutemen recorded a season-high 105-point effort against BYU, which also featured a 50-point performance in each half for the first time since Jan. 24, 1995 at Duquesne.
KELLOGG AMONG UMASS TOP FIVE IN VICTORIES
With 97 victories entering the Saint Joseph's game, sixth-year head coach Derek Kellogg is in third place on the school's career victories list. Jack Leaman won 217 over 13 seasons and John Calipari is second with 193 over eight years in Amherst.
UMASS POSTS TOP SHOOTING GAME OF KELLOGG ERA IN ROAD WIN OVER OHIO
UMass entered last month's game at Ohio having posted two of its three highest shooting games of the year in its two most recent contests. Going up against an Ohio team that ranked 11th nationally in field goal pct. defense (.372), the Minutemen recorded their best shooting night in more than seven seasons, connecting on .615 (32-for-52) from the floor. Additionally, the .643 (9-for-14) from three-point range was the highest since a .727 performance against Duquesne on Jan. 27, 2000.