The Massachusetts men's basketball team will travel to North Carolina and face Elon Saturday night in its final non-conference game of the regular-season. The Minutemen, who are 15-1 and 3-0 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, which began at George Mason Wednesday.
UMass has won five-consecutive games and its last three with late-game comebacks. Elon is on a three-game winning streak and has won five of its last seven.
This is the 105th season of UMass Basketball. UMass has an all-time record of 1,222-1,072 (.533) in 2,294 games. UMass is 451-308 (.593) in conference games, including a 287-288 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 third week of January, 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.
The Last Meeting
December 15, 2012
SERIES HISTORY WITH ELON & THE SOCON
Saturday's game marks just the third game between Elon and UMass. The Minutemen have won a game played in each of the past two seasons.
In last year's game played at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Terrell Vinson scored a career-high 22 points and Chaz Williams had 20 in a 78-73 overtime victory. The game was a back-and-forth affair with 11 ties and six lead changes until the Minutemen took control in the bonus period, closing the game on a 8-1 run. UMass shot 22-of-55 (40.0%) for the game including 31-of-47 from the free throw line. Elon was 23-of-77 (29.9%) from the floor, in part to a tough day from the perimeter, hitting just 8-of-35 three point attempts.
The Minutemen won the first meeting, 85-67 on Nov. 14, 2011 at historic Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. Chaz Williams recorded his first double-double with then-career-highs of 20 points and 10 assists in his second game at UMass. UMass used a 15-0 first-half run and led 40-28 at the half. They led by as many as 17 with 13:38 to play.
UMass is 7-7 all-time against current members of the Southern Conference. The record against those schools includes: 1-2 vs. Charleston, 4-4 vs. Davidson, 2-0 vs. Elon and 0-1 vs. Georgia Southern. UMass has won three-consecutive over SoCon foes with a win over Elon last season and wins over the Phoenix and Davidson in 2011-12. Its last loss came four years ago at Davidson, 63-61, on Jan. 10, 2010.
KELLOGG PICKS UP WIN NO. 100 IN AMAZING FASHION
Sixth-year head coach Derek Kellogg's earned his 100th career victory - all at UMass - with a thrilling 88-87 come-from-behind victory at George Mason Wedensday night. UMass trailed by eight midway through the second half and by five (86-81) with 41.3 seconds left. But a pair of lightning-quick layups by Chaz Williams, three forced turnovers and a Derrick Gordon putback with 8.1 left helped the Minutemen remain unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play.
What made the game special for Kellogg was that his 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.
With 100 victories entering the Elon game, 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.
15-1 MARK AFTER 16 GAMES EQUALS THE SECOND-BEST START IN SCHOOL HISTORY
With a 15-1 record entering the Elon game, the 2013-14 UMass team has matched the 1994-95 squad (Derek Kellogg's senior year) for the second-best start after 16 games in school history. The record is held by the 1995-96 Final Four team which won its first 26 games.
UMASS EARNS FIFTH 3-0 A-10 START IN LAST 20 YEARS
Wednesday's win at George Mason put UMass at 3-0 in Atlantic 10 Conference play. In doing so, it marks 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 124-30 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. The Minutemen have pulled off some late-game heroics in their last three contests.
On Wednesday, UMass trailed George Mason by eight in the second half and 86-81 with 41.3 seconds left. But a pair of lightning-quick layups by Chaz Williams, three forced turnovers and a Derrick Gordon putback with 8.1 left helped the Minutemen remain unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play.
Against St. Bonaventure on Saturday, they erased a 13-point deficit with nine minutes remaining and outscored the Bonnies 21-8 to close the game. That 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.
NON-CONFERENCE ROAD WINNING STREAK
UMass was 8-4 in road games last season, including a 4-0 mark in non-league matchups. Entering the Elon contest, the Minutemen have won their last 10 non-conference road games, which includes three postseason outings in the 2012 Postseason NIT. UMass is 9-2 in non-conference regular-season road games over the past three years.
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 34.8 16.1 .422 .437 .737 7.6 3.3 2.28
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 TO FACE ELON FOR FOURTH TIME
In one of the stranger occurances of Chaz Williams' career is that he will face Elon in each of his four seasons of playing in college. As a freshman at Hofstra in 2009-10, he scored two points with two assists and three rebounds in 16 minutes of the fifth game in his college career. In his first game in a UMass uniform to open the 2012-13 campaign, he was the catalyst all night in a 85-67 win, scoring 18 points while adding six rebounds, three steals and eight assists. In last season's overtime victory in Springfield, he netted 20 points and nine assists befopre fouling out in overtime. He had a chance to potentially win the game in regulation but missed two free throws with 2.2 seconds to play and the score tied at 66.
His career averages in three games against the Phoenix are: 13.3 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals... and three victories.
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 11.4 ppg, while his shooting averages - .421 FG%, .340 3FG% and .734 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 8.8 ppg and 5.1 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 nine 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 nine games, he is UMass' second leading scorer and rebounder at 11.2 ppg and 5.3 rpg. His field goal percentage is tops on the team during that span at .707 (41-for-58) 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 16 games has been to not fall behind. In 645 minutes, the Minutemen have trailed for a total of 82:23 - just 12.8 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.