• The Massachusetts men’s basketball team went 4-0 on its longest homestand of the season. Now the Minutemen, who are 14-1 and 2-0 in the Atlantic 10, will take their highest national ranking of the year - AP 16, Coaches 15 - on the road for a three-game stretch beginning at George Mason Wednesday.
• The Minutemen were picked to finish fourth in the A-10 preseason poll, while first-year member George Mason was picked eighth. Last season, UMass went 9-7 and Mason went 10-8 in the CAA to finish fifth.
• This is the 105th season of UMass Basketball. UMass has an all-time record of 1,221-1,072 (.537) in 2,293 games. UMass is 450-308 (.593) in conference games, including a 286-288 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.
GENERAL RPI & SOS INFO
• As we enter the second week of league play, shows UMass is ranked No. 3 in the NCAA RPI, ESPN Insider RPI, CBS Sports, RealTimeRPI.com and StatSheet.com, No. 27 by Jeff Sagarin and No. 32 by Ken Pomeroy.
• Their strength of schedule is 1 by ESPN, 4 by CBS and RealTime RPI, 5 by Stat Sheet, 13 by Jeff Sagarin and 18 by Ken Pomeroy.
SERIES HISTORY WITH GEORGE MASON
• UMass and George Mason are meeting for the first time in basketball on Wednesday night. The teams will meet again in 28 days in Amherst on Feb. 12.
• Derek Kellogg and Paul Hewitt have never faced each other as head coaches. Hewitt did coach against UMass once when he was the head coach at Siena. His final Saints team defeated UMass 66-65 in the 2000 NIT First Round in Albany.
KELLOGG SITTING ON 99 HEAD COACHING VICTORIES,
FACES FIRST FULL-TIME EMPLOYER ON WEDNESDAY
• With 99 victories entering the George Mason 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.
• Kellogg’s first full-time job after college came in the late 1990s when he spent two seasons at George Mason working for Jim Larranaga from 1997-99. That stint included the 1999 CAA regular-season and tournament titles en route to a NCAA Tournament First Round appearance.
WOODBRIDGE NATIVE PUTNEY RETURNS HOME
• UMass senior F Raphiael Putney will have another opportunity to play near his hometown of Woodbridge, Va. on Wednesday. He has previously played Atlantic 10 rivals George Washington, Richmond and VCU on three occassions. He has averaged 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.7 steals in thos contests.
• The fifth-year senior was a three-year varsity letterwinner at Woodbridge Senior HS where he played for Chad Anderson.
14-1 MARK AFTER 15 GAMES EQUALS THE SECOND-BEST START IN SCHOOL HISTORY
• With a 14-1 record entering the George Mason game, the 2013-14 UMass team has matched the 1994-95 squad (Derek Kellogg’s senior year) for the second-best start after 15 games in school history. The record is held by the 1995-96 Final Four team which won its first 26 games.
UMASS LOOKING FOR FIFTH 3-0 A-10 START IN LAST 20 YEARS
• A win on Wednesday would put UMass at 3-0 in Atlantic 10 Conference play. While that would be a nice outcome for the team, it would be fairly significant in the direction of the program, as it would be just the fifth time since the 1994-95 season that a UMass squad has opened with three-consecutive league wins. The 2006-07 team was the last to do it on its way to the regular-season title with a 13-3 record. Prior to that, the last time a Minutemen club started with three-straight was the 1997-98 group with an 8-0 start. The 1995-96 Final Four team holds the record for consecutive wins to start conference play with 15.
UMASS RETURNS TO ASSOCIATED PRESS & COACHES POLLS FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1998
• Following last Saturday’s 73-68 win over St. Bonaventure, UMass moved up a few spots in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, coming in at No. 16 in the AP and No. 15 in the coaches. UMass received 579 points in the AP and 330 in the coaches poll. For the first time this season, the Minutemen appeared on every AP voter’s ballot.
• When the Minutemen debuted in the rankings this season, it ended a drought that dated back to Nov. 1998 in each poll. Last week’s No. 19 ranking marked the first foray in the Top 20 in both polls since Feb. 24, 1998.
• UMass has now appeared in the AP Poll 85 times and is 123-30 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).
UMASS & THREE-GAME ROAD TRIPS
• UMass will be embarking on its only regular-season three-game road trip of the season beginning Wednesday at George Mason. It will mark the tenth such trip in the last 20 campaigns. Of the nine prior trips, the team has gone 3-0 three times, 2-1 once, 1-2 twice and 0-3 three times.
• Two years ago, UMass won consecutive road games at Mississippi State, Seton Hall and Drexel in the Postseason NIT en route to a Final Four appearance.
REFUSE TO LOSE
• With the style of play and mentality that Derek Kellogg has implemented at UMass, just about any deficit can be overcome. UMass pulled off some of its magic against St. Bonaventure on Saturday when it erased a 13-point deficit with nine minutes remaining. The Minutemen outscored the Bonnies 21-8.
• It marked the first time this season and the seventh time in the last three seasons a UMass club has overcome a double-digit hole to win a game.
• Three days earlier against Saint Joseph’s, UMass trailed by nine seven minutes into the game and again with six minutes to play. More full court pressure and timely shooting saw the Minutemen close the game on an 18-5 run.
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 15.4 .400 .433 .739 7.5 3.2 2.35
• 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.
WILLIAMS HAS GOOD HISTORY AGAINST THE PATRIOTS
• Senior PG Chaz Williams is the only member of the UMass team to have played a George mason team, doing so twice as a freshman at Hofstra during the 2009-10 season. The Patriots won both games but Williams had two of his top performances of the year. He scored a then-career high 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting (3-of-3 from outside) with five rebounds and four steals in a 67-63 loss in Fairfax. In the return meeting in Hempstead 15 days later, Williams came off the bench for another 20-point effort, making 8-of-13 shots and a season-high four 3-pointers.
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 11.6 ppg, while his shooting averages - .415 FG%, .333 3FG% and .767 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 9.0 ppg and 5.3 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 has produced three-consecutive double-figure scoring games twice over the last eight games for the first time in his career. 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 eight games, he is UMass’ second leading scorer and rebounder at 11.5 ppg and 5.4 rpg. His field goal percentage is tops on the team during that span at .717 (38-for-53) and he has six of his seven double-figure scoring games in the stretch.
UMASS PLAYING WITH A LEAD... A LOT
• Part of the UMass formula for success through 15 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.
UMASS TOUGH IN THE MULLINS CENTER
• UMass is unbeaten in the Mullins Center this year with a 7-0 record. Over the past three seasons, the Minutemen are 25-5 in regular-season games and 14-4 in Atlantic 10 contests in the facility.
• UMass finished its regular-season non-conference home slate last with a win over Miami (Ohio) and has compiled a 15-1 record with a current eight-game winning streak against non-league foes that it will take into next year.
• The Minutemen have been strong during the winter break as well, winning their last 11 non-league games when the classes are not in session.
• UMass is in its 21st season of play at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center and has posted an all-time record of 197-85 (.710) following the St. Bonaventure game. The Minutemen also own a 109-51 (.682) 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.
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.
• Derek Kellogg has mentioned that he will play the early part of the season with an eight-man rotation and will use the freshmen more and more as they develop. He has this luxury because his team is one of the most experienced in the country, with six of the first eight over 21 years old.
• Ken Pomeroy lists UMass as the 47th most experienced team in the country.