• After playing 10 of its first 15 games away from the Mullins Center, UMass returns to the 20-year-old facility for a three-game homestand - its longest this season - over the next two weeks.
• On Thursday, UMass will play host to Duquesne in game televised nationally by the CBS Sports Network. The Dukes were the last Atlantic 10 opponent to play in Amherst when the Minutemen handed the visitors a 92-83 setback in the first round of the 2012 A-10 Championship.
• 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 with an NIT FInal Four appearance.
• The Minutemen are shooting 40.7 pct. from the field, 31.0 pct. from outside and 69.8 pct. from the free throw line, while averaging 72.4 points per game overall. In two A-10 games, those numbers are 39.4 pct., 38.6 pct., 64.3 pct. and 69.5 ppg.
• UMass averages 7.5 3-pointers made and 24.3 attempts per game. The Minutemen have 125 steals thus far for 8.3 spg, which ranks 68th 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 (7.3, seventh in NCAA) and double-digit assist performances (3).
• UMass was listed at No. 49 in the second edition of the NCAA RPI, after debuting at No. 45 in last week’s initial release.
SERIES HISTORY WITH DUQUESNE
• UMass and Duquesne meet for the 61st time on Thursday as the Minutemen look to win two-consecutive over the Dukes for the first time since a four-game streak from 2005-08.
• The two teams have met every season but one since 1975 (1993 when Duquesne was in the MCC) and UMass holds a 35-25 series record (8-2 in Amherst). The teams have split their meetings each of the past two seasons. Last year, Duquesne won 80-69 in Pittsburgh before UMass claimed a fast-paced 92-83 win in the Atlantic 10 Championship First Round in Amherst.
• UMass has won seven of the last 11 in the series including four games in a row from 2005-08.
• Duquesne won three of four games in 2004 and 2005. Before that, the Minutemen reeled-off 16-straight wins.
• UMass is 8-2 against Duquesne at the Mullins Center.
• LAST SEASON IN PITTSBURGH: An 8-0 run late in the second half gave Duquesne an 80-69 win over UMass at the Palumbo Center on Jan. 18, 2012. The Minutemen committed a season-high 29 turnovers in the loss and dealt with foul trouble throughout the game. Duquesne converted the miscues into 32 points. The Dukes also converted 18-of-27 free throw opportunities in the game. Jesse Morgan had a team-best 14 points, while Sean Carter had 12 points and 14 rebounds and Terrell Vinson scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The Minutemen shot 53.1% (17-of-32) for the game, but were just 4-for-9 from the free throw line. After a nip-and-tuck first half which saw seven ties, UMass took a three-point lead, 46-43 early in the second half after back-to-back buckets by Chaz Williams. The Dukes tied the game 48-48 with 14:45 left in the game before going on an 8-0 run over the next two minutes to stretch the lead to eight, 56-48.
• LAST SEASON IN AMHERST: Chaz Williams, Javorn Farrell and Raphiael Putney combined for 61 points in leading No. 8 seed Massachusetts past No. 9 seed Duquesne 92-83 in the First Round of the 2012 Atlantic 10 Conference Championship at the Mullins Center. Williams finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Farrell had his most complete game in three seasons at UMass with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting, nine assists and seven rebounds. Putney matched Farrell’s three 3-pointers en route to 20 points and six boards. The Minutemen shot 51 percent from the floor, 47 pct. from outside and made 24-of-31 free throws. Duquesne led 78-73 with just over six minutes to play when UMass rattled off nine-consecutive points to stake a 82-78 lead. The Dukes answered the run with a three from Sean Johnson with what would be the final field goal for DU over the final 6:02. Williams made a running layup and a free throw to push the margin back to four. T.J. McConnell answered with two free throws to make it a 85-83 UMass lead. From there, the Minutemen connected on 7-of-8 from the charity stripe to close out the contest.
MINUTEMEN TAKING CARE OF THE BALL
• UMass is averaging just 9.5 turnovers per game in A-10 play. Granted that’s just two games with 12 at Saint Louis and seven at Fordham, but a closer look at the most recent quartet of games shows steady improvement.
• UMass has decreased its turnovers in each of its last four games following 19 at Northern Illinois (one shy of the season-high of 20 two games earlier). UMass’ total of 46 in the last four games (11.5 tpg) is tied for its lowest 4-game total this season.
• The team’s primary ball handlers of Chaz Williams, Jesse Morgan and Trey Davis have a combined assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.1 in the last four games.
• In non-conference play, UMass averaged 14.7 per game and has a current mark of 14.0 per game.
Jesse Morgan OUT FOR SEASON WITH ACL INJURY
• Junior guard Jesse Morgan was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Tuesday. He suffered the injury early in the second half of UMass’ loss at Saint Louis last Thursday. He will undergo surgery in February.
• At the time of the injury, he was UMass’ second leading scorer at 14.5 ppg and leading 3-point shooter with 37-of-104 for .356. He ranked 37th in the NCAA in 3-pointers per game and 81st in 3-point FG pct. His .808 free throw pct. was also first on the team.
• The injury was his second this season, following a broken right wrist he sustained in July that saw him miss three months.
3-POINT SHOTS STARTING TO FALL
• While UMass’ season 3-point shooting pct. is a less-than-desirable .310 (13th in the A-10), the squad has shot very well over its last seven games, making .357 (58-for-170) of its shots. That stretch also includes its four highest single-game totals this season, along with a per game average of 8.3.
• One of the primary reasons those numbers have increased is the play of senior Freddie Riley. He has made 15 3-pointers in the past six games (17-of-41, .415) while averaging 11.2 ppg, compared to five treys and 2.4 ppg in the opening nine games.
• Chaz Williams has shot .462 from outside (12-of-26) over the past six games as well.
• 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 over the past nine games 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 seven games over 40 percent and eight-straight of 39 pct. or higher. Included in that is a sizzling 50.1 pct effort from inside the arc during the streak.
• From the charity stripe, UMass has shot 70.0 pct. and has averaged 18-of-25 per contest, compared to 14-of-20 for its opponents - outscoring the opposition 159-127 at the line during the streak.
MINUTEMEN CUTTING DOWN ON THE FOULS
• Over the course of the first eight games this season, UMass averaged 22.1 fouls per game with 20 or more six times. Over the past seven games, the Minutemen have averaged just 18.6 violations and just two 20-plus games.
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 16 scoring runs where the margin was at least nine points, compared to eight by their opponents and just two over its last nine games.
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.
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 last month, 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.
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 12 games in 2012-13, Williams leads the team in scoring with 15.6 points per game and leads the A-10 with 7.3 assists - which ranks seventh nationally.
FOUR 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 TO RETIRE MARCUS CAMBY'S NO. 21 JERSEY
• The Massachusetts athletic department announced Tuesday 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.
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 AMONG TOP 3-POINT SHOOTING TEAMS IN 2011-12
• UMass averaged 8.1 3-point field goals per game a year ago, which ranked first in the Atlantic 10 and 31st nationally. The Minutemen made 288 triples to rank 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.
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.