Minutemen Head To Duquesne Looking To Keep A-10 Momentum
• Winners of eight of the last nine games, the UMass men’s basketball team heads to Duquesne looking to keep momentum alive as the Minutmen enter the week as the top team in the Atlantic 10 standings. Wednesday night pits two of the top scoring teams in the league against each other with UMass coming in at No. 1 and the Dukes close behind in the two spot.
• UMass is coming off a 71-62 come-from-behind win over Saint Joseph’s where the Minutemen erased a 17-point first half deficit at the Mullin Center last Saturday. Raphiael Putney and Chaz Williams became national figures with a between-the-legs pass from Williams to Putney for a monster dunk that became a Sports Center Top 10 Play and YouTube sensation.
• The game can be heard on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM KIX in Western Mass. and 830 AM WCRN in Central Mass., 95.9 AM WATD on Boston’s South Shore, and 1510 AM WWZN in Boston. “Voice of the Minutemen” Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney will call the action. Live audio and Gameracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES WITH DUQUESNE
• UMass and Duquesne meet for the 59th time on Wednesday as the Minutemen look to avenge last season’s loss to the Duke in the Mullins Center.
• The two teams have met every season but one since 1975 (1993 when Duquesne was in the MCC) and UMass holds a 34-24 series record. The Dukes won last season’s meeting 81-63 in the Mullins Center, while the Minutemen captured an 84-80 overtime win in Pittsburgh the year before (Feb. 11, 2010). Duquesne won both meetings the previous season: 94-77 on Feb. 25 at the Mullins Center and 91-81 on March 11 in the Atlantic 10 Tournament First Round.
More On The Duquesne Series
• The last time UMass travelled to Pittsburgh the Minutemen rallied back from a 16-point deficit in the second half to pull out an 84-80 win in overtime. Ricky Harris scored 29 points, while Sean Carter scored 11 points and hauled in a career-high 19 rebounds. Anthony Gurley added 20 points as well.
• Overall, UMass has won five of the last eight meetings. That includes four games in a row from 2005-08.
• UMass stands 12-14 against Duquesne in road games. At the Palumbo Center, the Minutemen have an 8-5 all-time mark. Prior to the win in 2006, UMass’ last win over Duquesne in Pittsburgh came on Jan. 27, 2000, an 84-75 win. Monty Mack led UMass with 22 points.
• Prior to the recent winning stretch, Duquesne won three of four games in 2004 and 2005. Before that, the Minutemen reeled off 16 straight wins. Duquesne beat UMass in the first round of the A-10 Tournament in 2004, 79-76.
• UMass is 7-2 against Duquesne at the Mullins Center, suffering its first loss in the last meeting in 2009.
• In A-10 Tournament games, UMass and Duquesne have played nine times with the Dukes holding a 5-4 edge after the 2009 victory.
Up Next: Richmond
• This will be the 13th meeting between the two programs in a series which began during the 2000-01 campaign. Richmond holds an 8-4 advantage in the 12 previous meetings. The Spiders have won the last three games, including last year in Amherst (84-68) and both in 2009-10 taking a 70-63 regular-season game on Jan. 13 and a 77-72 tilt in the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Atlantic City on March 12. That season was the first time the teams played twice in a year.
• At UMass, the Minutemen have won three of the five games, winning the last two in 2009 and 2007. In games played at the Robins Center, UMass is 1-4, winning for the first time in 2008.
• Over the last five years, UMass has outrebounded the Spiders by 66 rebounds and average of plus 10.8 per game. That includes a plus-26 margin in 2007 (39-13).
• In the last meeting at the Mullins Center, UMass capturd a 80-71 victory on Feb. 4, 2009. Ricky Harris led the way with 24 points, 21 in the second half as UMass outscored the Spiders 49-38 in the second half. Chris Lowe scored his 1,000th career point as he posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. Richmond’s David Gonzalvez also scored his 1,000th point in the game as he and Kevin Anderson each tallied a team-best 18 points for Richmond.
• UMass’ first win of the series was on Feb. 12, 2003 in the Mullins Center. The Minutemen held off the Spiders for a 54-53 victory.
• The first meeting was in Charlotte at the Tournament of Champions in 2000, a 63-59 Richmond win.
GOOD AS ADVERTISED
• Redshirt sophomore point guard Chaz Williams has been given the reponsibility of quarterbacking the Minutemen’s new up-tempo offense and the tranfer from Hofstra lived up to the billing, averaging 16.2 points and 5.9 assists in 18 games. He is shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 22nd nationally in steals with 2.3 per game and 23rd nationally with 5.9 assists per game.
• In the loss at La Salle, Williams surpassed his previous career high with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting while adding five assists.
• Williams scored a then-career-high 22 points in the 83-75 loss at Miami (12/3). He also dished out four assists, while raking in four rebounds. He tied that mark with another 22 points (20 in the second half) in the win over Siena (12/9).
• Williams recorded the first double-double of his career in Nov. 14’s win over Northeastern, tying career-highs with 20 points and 10 assists.
• Williams, in his first game in a UMass uniform in the win over Elon, led all scorers with 18 points to go with a game-high eight assists, six rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes.
BEST HOME START SINCE 2005-06 SEASON
• With a 10-0 home record to start the season (9-0 at Mullins, 1-0 at The Cage), UMass is off to its best home start since 1992-93 when the Minutemen started 11-0 at home. In 1993-94 UMass was 14-0 at home.
UMASS ONE OF A-10’S TOP SCORING TEAMS
• At an average clip of 77.3 points per game, UMass is the top ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10. The Minutemen are one of nine teams in the league to average over 70 points per game.
• UMass is also the third-ranked team in the league in terms of scoring margin at +8.5 over opponents. Saint Louis and La Salle are the only two teams to have margins higher than 10 points.
BRINGING THE PRESSURE
• To go with the new up-tempo offense, Derek Kellogg has the Minutemen pressing and trapping more on defense in 2011-12. The new attacking defensive style has worked extremely well thus far as the Minutemen have forced an average of 18.3 turnovers per game and scored 23.0 points per game off those take-aways.
• At East Carolina (12/6), UMass had nearly one point per ECU turnover, scoring 15 off 16 Pirates’ miscues.
• In the 83-75 loss at Miami (12/3), the Minutemen forced 11 turnovers, while scoring as many points off them.
• The Minutemen forced 19 turnovers and turned it into 31 points in their lone win at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 25.
• In its 36-point win at Boston College on Nov. 21, UMass turned 23 Eagles turnovers into 28 points and outscored them 28-6 over the final 10:30 of the game.
• In the win vs. Northeastern (11/14), UMass forced 21 turnovers and scored 26 points off turnovers. Sampson Carter led the defense with three steals.
• The Minutemen held the Huskies to just 38 percent shooting in the game, including a 9.1 percent mark from behind the arc.
• In the opener vs. Elon, UMass forced 25 Phoenix turnovers and scoring 34 points off those turnovers, including 12 fast-break points. Jesse Morgan led the defensive charge with a career-high five steals in 17 minutes. UMass finished with 14 steals total.
• Through 18 games, UMass has shot .424 from the floor after posting a .401 shooting percentage a season ago. Much of the improvement can be attributed to the new up-tempo, fastbreaking offense that Derek Kellogg has implemented this season. Taking advantage of the long athletic players on his roster, Kellogg’s offense has resulted in higher percentage shots in transition.
• Senior bigman Sean Carter has been on fire over the last three games shooting 17-of-22 from the floor to average 13.7 points per game. He scored a career-high 18 points at La Salle going 8-for-11 from the floor before going 6-of-6 from the floor for 15 points in the win over Charlotte.
• Also over the last five games, UMass’ starting line-up of Chaz Williams (20.6 pts), Raphiael Putney (13.4), Terrell Vinson (11.2), Jesse Morgan (11.0), and Sean Carter (10.6) have averaged double-figures.
• Free throw shooting has also improved over the last five games with UMass hitting 71.8 percent compared to 66.5 percent overall for the season.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
• UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging nearly 41 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 with 40.9 and 7th nationally.
OUTSIDE SHOOTING+PROTECT THE BALL=WIN
• It’s a simple formula, but when UMass is able to shoot the ball from outside and keep turnovers to a minimum, chances are the Minutemen win. In 14 games won this year, UMass is 133-of-350 from three-point land and average 14.4 turnovers per game. In 4 games lost, UMass is just 18-of-90 from deep and average 17.5 turnovers.
• Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average nearly 18 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 9 in the four losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up nearly 6.6 assists in wins, but just 3.8 in each of the four losses.
BALANCED SCORING AMONG UMASS ROTATION
• While Chaz Williams and Raphiael Putney may be the only Minuteman averaging double-figures in the scoring column this season, UMass is a well balanced scoring team. In 10 games this season, UMass has had four or more players reach double-figure point totals.
• Against Utah, Davidson, Central Connecticut, and Fordham, five Minutemen reached double-figures in the scoring column. Against Siena, Williams and Freddie each scored over 20 points in the comeback win.
• Terrell Vinson is close to a double-figure scoring average at 9.1 points per game. Jesse Morgan and Freddie Riley are each close as well averaging 8.1 points points apiece.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 18 games, a trio of players have made significant strides over their 2010-11 averages.
• Jesse Morgan played in just 12 games last season averaging 4.4 points in almost 11 minutes per game. This year, the combo point guard/two guard is averaging 8.1 points in 22.7 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 10.2 points and is averaging over two more rebounds per game (3.0-to-5.1)
• After having a strong freshman campaign in 2009-10, Terrell Vinson saw his scoring dip from 9.6 poings per game to 6.5 last season. This year he is back to form averaging 9.1 points in just under 26 minutes per game.
DEPTH OFF THE BENCH KEY
• UMass has received quite a lift from its bench early in the season. A season-high 51 points were scored in the win over Towson thanks to the reserves. All told, the UMass bench has outscored every opponent this year except two (College of Charleston & La Salle).
• 36.4% (506-of-1391 points) of UMass’ scoring has come from the bench.