• UMass opens Atlantic 10 Conference play with a pair of road games, at Saint Louis Thursday night on CBS Sports Network and at Fordham Sunday afternoon on the YES Network. These close out a stretch of four out of five on the road before a three-game homestand begins next week.
• The Minutemen bring a seven-game overall win streak into the SLU contest and a seven-game road win streak, which is tied for the third-longest active stretch in the country. UMass’ last seven-game skein came two years ago when the squad won its first seven games to start the 2010-11 season - the longest in Derek Kellogg’s coaching tenure at UMass. Prior to that, the last team to win more than seven-straight came during the 1997-98 campaign when the Minutemen won 10 in a row.
• The 2012-13 season marks the fifth 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 and 25 last season.
• The Minutemen are shooting 40.9 pct. from the field, 31.3 pct. from outside and 70.7 pct. from the free throw line, while averaging 72.8 points per game.
• UMass averages 7.8 3-pointers made and 24.8 attempts per game. The Minutemen have 112 steals thus far for 8.6 spg, which ranks 80th in the nation. Last season, UMass collected a school-record 326 steals and 8.8 spg.
• Junior PG Chaz Williams leads the A-10 in assists (7.4, seventh in NCAA) and double-digit assist performances (3).
• UMass was listed at No. 43 in the first edition of the NCAA RPI, released on Monday.
• UMass enters the game with a 17-19 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 7-8 in openers on the road and have won three-straight and six of their last seven. UMass and Saint Louis have never met in a conference opener.
• The Minutemen have won all four openers under Derek Kellogg. Their last A-10 opening loss came against Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 9, 2008.
SERIES HISTORY WITH SAINT LOUIS
• This will be the 12th meeting between the two teams and 10th since the Billikens joined the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06. Saint Louis leads the series 7-4 overall and 4-1 in St. Louis.
• The teams have played their 11 games at six different facilities: Scottrade/Kiel Center (1995, 2008), Georgia Dome (1998), St. Charles Family Arena (2006), Mullins Center (2007, 2008, 2010, 2012), Boardwalk Hall (2007), Chaifetz Arena (2009, 2011).
• UMass has lost its last four in the Gateway the West, coming up short at Chaifetz in 2009 & 2011, Scottrade in 2008 and in St. Charles in 2006. Its lone victory came as part of the Atlantic 10/Great Midwest Challenge in 1995 when the Derek Kellogg-led Minutemen secured an 80-74 win at the Kiel Center.
• UMass and Saint Louis met in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament in Atlanta with the Billikens winning 51-46. That game was the last time the Minutemen made the NCAA Tournament. Larry Hughes scored 18 points, Matt Baniak tallied 12 and Virgil Cobbin added 11 in the win. Monty Mack was the sole double-figure scorer for UMass with 10 points.
• LAST SEASON IN AMHERST: UMass used a 22-5 first half run to create a large lead en route to a 72-59 win before a season-high crowd of 8,399. The Minutemen were led by Raphiael Putney who scored a career-high 22 points and had 10 rebounds. Chaz Williams finished with 19 points, seven assists, six rebounds and was 11-for-12 from the charity stripe (he drew 10 fouls in the game). Saint Louis used a strong second half push opening on a 18-7 run. The Billikens were able to cut the UMass lead to five with 5:33 left in the second half. Williams was able to put the game away by converting on 9-for-9 free throws down that stretch. The Minutemen finished the game shooting 50 percent (25-for-50) from the floor, 45.5 percent (5-for-11) from long range and 81 percent (17-for-21) from the line. The Billikens shot 34.3 percent (23-for-67) from the floor, 20.8 percent (5-for-24) from three-point land and 42.1 percent (8-for-19) from the charity stripe.
3-POINT SHOTS STARTING TO FALL
• While UMass’ season 3-point shooting pct. is a less-than-desirable .313 (13th in the A-10), the squad has shot very well over its last five games, making .359 (46-for-128) of its shots. That stretch also includes games of nine, 10, and the last two outings of 11 makes each, with a per game average of 9.2.
• Last season, UMass averaged 8.1 3-point field goals per game, which ranked first in the Atlantic 10 and 31st nationally. The Minutemen made 288 triples to place second all-time in school history.
• UMass was one of just four schools in Division I with four players who made at least 50 treys. The others were Florida, Iowa State and Youngstown State.
2-POINT FIELD GOALS AND FREE THROW SHOOTING CARRYING MINUTEMEN OF LATE
• While its no secret UMass has struggled to shoot the ball consistently from outside, the Minutemen have made great strides during their current 7-game winning streak in their 2-point field goal and free throw shooting.
• Following a season-low 28.6 pct. shooting game against Miami (Fla.), UMass has compiled six games over 40 percent for the first time this season and all seven during the current winning streak of 39 pct. or higher. Included in that is a sizzling 51.5 pct effort from inside the arc during the streak.
• From the charity stripe, UMass has shot 71.0 pct. and has averaged 19-of-26 per contest, compared to 12-of-17 for its opponents - outscoring the opposition 132-88 at the line during the streak.
UMASS GETTING THE TRANSITION GAME GOING
• One of the primary factors during its strong play of late has been UMass’ ability to put together some momentum-building scoring runs, while limiting its opponent’s opportunities. The Minutemen collected two of their most lopsided stretches all season against Ohio - a 23-1 stretch over 6:40 in the first half and an 11-0 skein over 2:14 in the second half when Ohio had tied the game at 55, and followed with a 14-0 run to open the East Carolina contest before adding a 16-0 stretch early in the second half.
• This season the Minutemen have compiled 15 scoring runs where the margin was at least nine points, compared to eight by their opponents and just two during the current seven-game winning streak.
MINUTEMEN CUTTING DOWN ON THE FOULS
• Over the course of the first eight games this season, UMass had been averaging 22.1 fouls per game with 20 or more six times. Over the past five games, the Minutemen have averaged just 15.2 violations and no 20-plus showings.
UMASS TURNING INTO ROAD WARRIORS
• UMass emerged from the Miami (Ohio) contest having won seven-consecutive road games dating back to the postseason NIT run last year. The last time they won as many true road games was during the 1997-98 season when Bruiser Flint’s second team reeled-off seven-consecutive in opposing arenas.
• In those four victories this season, Chaz Williams is averaging 10.3 ppg after halftime, compared to 5.5 in the opening 20 minutes. Jesse Morgan is also a strong second half player, posting 7.0 ppg in the second half after 4.8 in the first half.
UMASS NEVER OUT OF A GAME
• With the style of play and mentality that Derek Kellogg has implemented at UMass, just about any deficit can be overcome. UMass erased a 12-point deficit in defeating Ohio two weeks ago, marking the second time this season and the sixth time in the last two seasons it has overcome a double-digit hole to win a game.
• Three weeks earlier at Siena, the Minutemen trailed by 17 points (33-16) before outscoring the Saints 45-12 over a period of 13:02 for a 51-45 lead at the midway point of the second half, eventually getting a running jumper by Chaz Williams with 3.3 seconds left to win the game. It was the third time in the last 11 months that UMass has erased a 17-point deficit and won - at home against Saint Joseph’s and at Drexel in the NIT Quarterfinals.
UMASS-EASTERN MICHIGAN LEFTOVERS
• UMass now leads the series 2-0 and finished its MAC schedule with a 4-0 record.
• UMass extended its win streak to a season-best seven games. This matches the longest in Derek Kellogg’s tenure at UMass when the Minutemen won their first seven games to start the 2010-11 season.
• UMass led 38-25 at the half and improved to 8-0 when leading at the break. UMass has scored at least 38 points in its last three first halves at home. Additionally, the 25 points are the second-fewest allowed in the opening 20 minutes this year.
• UMass tied its season-high with 11 3-point field goals, including nine in the first half, its most in any period this year. The Minutemen shot a season-best 44 pct. from outside on 11-of-25 attempts.
• UMass handed out a season-high 20 assists, just over the previous high of 19 set three days ago at Miami (Ohio).
• The Minutemen also collected a season-high 12 steals, matching their season-best from the season-opener against Harvard.
• Freddie Riley tied his career high with six 3-pointers. He moved into sixth place on the UMass career list with 179 makes. He finished with 18 points on 6-of-9 from outside.
• Chaz Williams finished with 14 points and nine assists.
• Terrell Vinson made his 108th career start, moving into eighth place at UMass. Edwin Green (80-84) and Horace Neysmith (81-85) are next on the list with 110 career starts.
1,000-POINT CLUB GAINS NEW MEMBERS
• Junior PG Chaz Williams scored his 1,000 career point last month in the win over Siena and was joined last Saturday by senior F Terrell Vinson. Vinson finished with 10 points against Northern Illinois to become the 44th member of the 1,000-Point Club at UMass. He now ranks 41st at UMass with 1,019 points.
WE LOVE THE MULLINS CENTER
• That’s probably a pretty accurate statement from the men’s basketball program over the past couple of years as the squad is 18-2 at the Mullins Center since the start of last season and 20-2 in home games.
• UMass was dominant at home last season, posting a 15-1 record in Amherst, which included a 14-1 record at the Mullins Center (1-0 at historic Curry Hicks Cage) and a renewed home-court advantage with the student-based Mullins Militia. UMass averaged 4,359 fans in 15 dates last season. Those numbers got increasingly higher as the season evolved to 5,411 for eight A-10 home games and 6,614 for the last five regular-season home dates. The Minutemen saw four crowds of more than 6,200 in the final six games, with a season-high 8,399 in the victory over Saint Louis.
• UMass is in its 20th season of play at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center and has posted an all-time record of 196-76 (.720) following the Eastern Michigan game. The Minutemen also own a 103-49 (.676) all-time record in regular-season Atlantic 10 Conference games at the Mullins Center, and a 4-2 mark in Atlantic 10 Tournament contests. The first game was played on Feb. 4, 1993 as UMass defeated West Virginia 64-59 in overtime.
WILLIAMS NAMED TO BOB COUSY AWARD WATCH LIST
• After posting a banner season in 2011-12 in his first season playing for UMass, junior point guard Chaz Williams has garnered national attention for running the fast-paced Minuteman offense. Last Thursday, the Brooklyn native received yet another accolade as he was named to the 2013 Bob Cousy Award Watch List.
• The award is given annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation’s top point guard in college basketball and is named after Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy.
• In 2011-12, Williams earned NABC First Team All-District 4 honors in addition to being named to the All-Atlantic 10 First-Team and the Atlantic 10 All-Tournament Team. He averaged 16.9 points per game and 6.3 assists. The addition of the transfer from Hofstra helped guide UMass to the NIT Final Four last year before a lose to Stanford in the Semifinals.
• Through 13 games in 2012-13, Williams leads the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game and leads the A-10 with 7.4 assists - which ranks seventh nationally.
A SALUTE TO 21: UMASS TO RETIRE MARCUS CAMBY’S JERSEY
• The Massachusetts athletic department announced that it will retire the jersey of 1996 Naismith National Player of the Year Marcus Camby on Jan. 19, 2013 when the Minutemen host George Washington at the Mullins Center.
• One of the most decorated athletes UMass has ever produced, Camby lettered from 1993-96 and led the Minutemen to the 1996 NCAA Final Four and a 35-2 record, the most successful season in program history. He was named a consensus first-team All-American that season as he averaged 20.5 points to lead the Atlantic 10. In his three seasons at UMass, he was a two-time NABC All-District selection, an Atlantic 10 First-Team pick twice and the league’s Freshman of the Year in 1994.
• He left UMass as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots in a career (336) and single-season (128). Camby scored 1,387 points in his career to rank in the top 10 after his final season for the Maroon & White.
• This will be the fifth men’s basketball jersey retired at UMass and ninth in school history. Previous hoops numbers to be hung at the South end of the Mullins Center include George “Trigger” Burke (#32), Julius Erving (#32), Lou Roe (#15) and Al Skinner (#30). Additionally, Dick Bergquist in baseball (#26), Danielle Henderson in softball (#44), Greg Minton in water polo (#6) and Eric Sopracasa (#43) in men’s lacrosse have had their jerseys retired in their respective sports.
PAIR OF 6-FOOT-7 FORWARDS SIGN NLIs
• Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg announced that 6-foot-7 forwards Seth Berger and Zach Coleman have each signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Minutemen, beginning next season.
• Berger is entering his senior season at Ballard H.S. in the Seattle area and is listed as the fifth-best prospect in the state of Washington. He has helped the Beavers to three playoff appearances and one state tournament showing. He was a KingCo 4A Second Team All-League selection by the Seattle Times last year when he posted averages of 15.3 points and nine rebounds per game. As a sophomore he averaged 12.9 ppg and was Ballard’s second-leading rebounder while earning Honorable Mention All-League honors. The Beavers also made their first state tournament appearance since 2002 that season. Berger has been attending the Emerald City Pioneers Basketball Academy for the past seven years.
• Coleman attends Woodrow Wilson H.S. in Dallas and was recently named to the Dallas Morning News’ Preseason All-Area team following a junior year that saw him average 16 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists for the Class 4A school. He was a Third Team All-Area selection last season. He plays AAU ball for the Dallas Mustangs.
4 STARTERS, 9 LETTERMEN BACK FROM 25-WIN SQUAD
• UMass welcomes back four starters, including its top four scorers and nine of its top 10 rebounders from last season’s team that went 25-12 and reached the NIT Final Four. Led by All-America candidate Chaz Williams at the point guard spot, the Minutemen will look to continue their up-tempo offensive style and full-court pressure defense in head coach Derek Kellogg’s (64-65) fifth year at his alma mater.
• UMass returns the following percentages in 2012-13: Scoring 89.3 pct.; Rebounding 83.2 pct.; Assists 94.7 pct.; Steals 91.7 pct.; Blocks 76.7 pct.; Minutes 85.4 pct.
• Williams (16.9 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.4 rpg), a first team NABC all-district and all-conference selection, was one of just three players in Division I last year to average at least 16.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. The others were Tim Frazier of Penn State and Nate Wolters of South Dakota State.
• UMass recorded a school-record 326 steals last season (8.8 spg, 7th in NCAA) which aided in its 76.6 possessions per game, ranking the Minutemen second nationally behind Seattle’s 77.2.
UMASS SELECTED FIFTH IN A-10 PRESEASON POLL
• UMass was selected fifth in the preseason Atlantic 10 Poll in a vote by media and coaches. Saint Joseph’s was picked to win the league followed by Saint Louis, VCU, Temple and UMass. The Hawks had 11 first place votes, while the Billikens had 10 votes. Temple, UMass and Butler all had two first place votes in the poll.
• Junior Chaz Williams was named to the preseason First Team. Williams had a banner campaign in 2011-12 in leading UMass to the NIT Semifinals. The Brooklyn native was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team, the A-10 All-Championship Team and the NABC All-District 4 First Team.
• Among national publications, Athlon picked the Minutemen to finish fourth and make a return trip to the NIT. They also tabbed Chaz Williams as the Preseason Player of the Year and one of the top 10 Floor Leaders in the nation. Lindy’s had UMass seventh but listed it as a team folks may want as an A-10 sleeper team. Williams was bestowed the honor of being the Most Entertaining player in the league.
UMASS A POPULAR TV CHOICE IN 2012-13
• UMass is scheduled to appear on television 11 times this season with nine current match-ups slated for national broadcasts. That marks the most regular-season showings since the 1997-98 year.
UMASS POSTSEASON HISTORY
• UMass has an all-time postseason record of 24-21 in 18 combined appearances in both the NCAA and NIT tournaments. The Minutemen have made eight NCAA Tourney showings, with the last in 1998. The first came in 1962 before a string of seven-consecutive from 1992-98 in which it ran its all-time record to 11-8 with an Elite Eight showing in 1995 and the only Final Four appearance in A-10 history in 1996. Last season the Minutemen collected their 11th NIT appearance and ran their record to 13-13, which included Final Fours in 1991 (fourth), 2008 (runner-up) and 2012 (tied-third).
ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE
• The A-10 ranked seventh among all conferences in the final RPI in 2011-12. The league boasted eight Top 100 teams, third among all leagues behind only the Big East and Big 10. The eight teams matched the SEC and was more than the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Mountain West.
A-10 IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
• For the fifth year in a row, the Atlantic 10 Conference earned at least three bids into the NCAA Tournament while it marked the 27th time in the league's 35-year history that the conference received multiple bids to participate in the national tournament. The A-10 also received multiple at-large bids for the fifth year in a row and 18th time overall. Over the last six years, the league has had 12 at-large selections - the seventh most among Division I conferences - behind only the Big East (42), Big Ten (29), ACC (26), Big 12 (26), SEC (23) and the Pac-10 (22). In fact, the A-10 is one of eight conferences to receive at least one at-large selection over each of the last six seasons.