UMass Seeks To Avenge Last Loss, Heads To Saint Joseph's
UMASS (13-4, 2-1) at SAINT JOSEPH'S (10-5, 2-1)
UMass Seeks To Avenge Last Loss, Heads To Saint Joseph's
Live streaming video will be available on UMassAthletics.com as part of UMass All-Access. The game will be carried on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM WRNX in Western Massachusetts and on 830 AM (WCRN) in Central Mass and 95.9 FM (WATD) in Eastern Mass. Bob Behler calls the action alongside color analyst and Tim Kenney.
The Minutemen have averaged 88.6 points in their last five games to raise their scoring average to 85.4, sixth in the NCAA. UMass has scored more than 80 points in 12 of 17 games this season.
With a new high-energy system installed by Travis Ford this year, the Minutemen are led by Gary Forbes (20.3 points per game) and Ricky Harris (20.1) as UMass is one of two schools in the nation (North Dakota State) with a pair of NCAA Top 40 scorers as Forbes is 33rd and Harris is 35th.
UMass had its best non-conference season since the Final Four year of 1995-96, as the Minutemen went 11-3 prior to the loss to Saint Joseph's.
Harris Earns A-10, National Honors
Harris was named the Atlantic 10 men's basketball player of the week after he averaged 23.0 points in the Minutemen's 2-0 week. Harris led UMass in scoring in its win at No. 14 Dayton and against Charlotte on Saturday. Harris connected on 9-of-18 shots from 3-point range. It was UMass' third weekly honor in 2007-08 (Gary Forbes was honored twice). Overall, Harris scored 46 points on the week with 22 at Dayton and 24 vs. Charlotte. He shot 50 percent from the floor (11-for-22) and knocked down 9-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc in a pair of victories for the Minutemen. He tied his career high with five 3-pointers on Jan. 16 in Massachusetts' 82-71 win at Dayton as he added five rebounds and two assists. Harris has scored at least 20 points in ten of Massachusetts' 17 games this season. He has been in double-figures in every game this year and is second to Forbes (20.3 ppg) in scoring (20.1).
The Series With Saint Joseph's
Saint Joseph's has won 10 of the last 13, but prior to that UMass ran off six consecutive victories in the series.
Saint Joseph's holds a 14-9 advantage against the Minutemen for regular-season games played in Philadelphia, including a 11-9 mark against UMass in Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.
The Minutemen hold a 14-6 advantage against Saint Joseph's for games played in Amherst, including a 8-6 mark against the Hawks at the Mullins Center.
UMass head coach Travis Ford is 2-1 against the Hawks. Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli stands 12-11 all-time against the Minutemen in his career.
THIS YEAR'S FIRST MEETING (JAN. 9, 2008): Ahmad Nivins poured in 31 points and 12 rebounds to lead Saint Joseph's highest scoring output of the season, as UMass (11-4, 0-1 A-10) fell to the Hawks (8-4, 1-0), 98-92, in the A-10 opener for both teams at the Mullins Center. The loss ended a 15-game home winning streak for the Minutemen and was their first conference loss at home since 2005-06. Ricky Harris led the UMass offense with 25 points and four 3-pointers, while Gary Forbes added 22 points and hit five 3-pointers. Etienne Brower chipped in with 14 points and Dante Milligan grabbed 10 rebounds. Pat Calathes added 21 points and 15 boards for the Hawks. Saint Joseph's shot 58.5% (38-65) for the game, while UMass shot 42.7% (32-75) from the field. The Minutemen were 13-33 (39.4%) from 3-point range and the Hawks were 6-14 (42.9%).
LAST YEAR'S GAME (March 3, 2007): UMass captured its first Atlantic 10 Regular-Season Championship since 1996 as the Minutemen defeated Saint Joseph's, 71-67, before a raucous sell-out crowd in Philadelphia. The Minutemen finish tied with Xavier at 13-3 to claim a share of the crown. Chris Lowe made a play of the game as he stole the ball from D.J. Rivera. had a lay-up and converted the foul shot with 3:17 left to give UMass a lead it would never relinquish. Gary Forbes scored 13 points to lead the Minutemen in scoring. Forbes scored the go-ahead basket with just under three minutes left, and UMass (23-7, 13-3) used a late seven-point run to secure its sixth straight victory. Ahmad Nivins, who missed most of the second half due to foul trouble, scored 18 points for Saint Joseph's (17-13, 9-7), which lost its third straight.
Rising In The RPI
This week, UMass is receiving 47 votes in the AP Poll to effectively rank the Minutemen No. 31. It is the most points UMass has received since the 1998-99 season. UMass has received votes in five of the last six week. Last week, UMass did not receive any votes after four weeks in a row as a part of "Others Receiving Votes" from Dec. 17-Jan. 7 polls. In the Jan. 7 poll, UMass had five points, UMass would have been ranked 34th. UMass had eight points on Dec. 31. UMass received six points in the Associated Press media poll on Dec. 17 and 24. UMass has received votes in a week for the 10th time in the last two seasons with the votes on Jan. 7. Last season, the Minutemen received a season-best 11 votes in the March 3, 2007 poll to "rank" them 37th that week.
The last time UMass was ranked in the AP Poll was in the Nov. 18, 1998 poll, when the Minutemen came in at No. 23.
Three Atlantic 10 teams have been ranked this season with highs of Dayton at No. 14, Rhode Island at No. 22 and Xavier at No. 20. When all three were ranked in each of the last two weeks, it was the first since since the 2003 season, the A-10 had three ranked teams.
This week, Dayton is No. 16 and Xavier is No. 23. Rhode Island has fallen to ORV with 17 points.
UMass also played No. 14 Vanderbilt (17.2), one of the final five undefeated teams in the nation, in a 97-88 loss on January 5.
This week, UMass is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll for the first time this season with nine points. Effectively, UMass is 33rd in the nation. Last season, UMass received one vote in March for its only other time with points in the last two seasons. In the Coaches poll, Dayton is No. 19 and Xavier is No. 22.
UMass Against Ranked Teams
This season the Minutemen also lost at then-No. 15 Vanderbilt on Jan. 5, 97-88, in Nashville.
Last season, UMass played just one ranked team when they lost at No. 4 Pittsburgh, 85-68 on Nov. 18, 2006. Two seasons ago, UMass lost to No. 3 UConn, 78-60 on Dec. 8, 2005, to No. 11 Boston College, 91-62 on Jan. 3, 2006 and to No. 7 to George Washington, 69-66 on Feb. 15, 2006.
UMass head coach Travis Ford won his first-ever game as a head coach against a ranked team with the win at Dayton. He is 1-5 at UMass after going 0-9 while coaching at Eastern Kentucky from 2000-05.
All-time, UMass is 30-66 against ranked teams.
Beating the ACC & Big East
Scoring, More and More
With the new offense, UMass is scoring at a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 85.4 points per game, up from 76.5 points (+8.9) through 17 games last season and 77.3 points (+8.1) for the entire season.
UMass is fifth in the NCAA in scoring through Jan. 22 with 85.4 per game. The Minutemen are also second in the Atlantic 10 scoring behind No. 4 Duquesne (85.8). VMI leads the nation with a 97.1. average.
UMass is one of two teams in the nation with two players in the Top 40 NCAA scoring leaders as of Jan. 22 with Gary Forbes standing 33rd with a 20.3 average. Ricky Harris is tied for 35th with 20.1 per game. The other team on the exclusive list is North Dakota State.
UMass is 30th in total 3-pointers made with 161. With 9.5 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10 and is 21st in the NCAA in 3s per game.
After finishing third in the nation (7.45) in blocked shots with the nation's top shot blocker in Lasme, UMass is fifth in 2007-08 with 7.5 per game. UConn (9.4), Mississippi State (8.7) and Duquesne leads the A-10 with 7.8 per contest to rank third in the nation.
The Minutemen picked up 41 blocks in three games (13.7 per game) from Dec. 22-Jan. 2. The Minutemen had 18 swats against Central Connecticut on Dec. 22 for the second-most prolific shot blocking game in school history. The only game with more came with a school-record of 20 on Jan. 3, 1995 in a win over West Virginia at the Springfield Civic Center. UMass followed that up with 14 blocks vs. Boston University.
The Minutemen hold the top four shot blocking days in Atlantic 10 history led by the 1995 showing and this year's party against CCSU. UMass also had 16 against St. Francis (N.Y.) last year and St. Peter's in 2005.
The 18 blocked shots ties for the ninth most in a game in NCAA history, dating to 1985 when blocked shots became an official statistic.
Showing Major Improvement
Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 20.1 points per game after just 4.5 last season as a freshman. He played in 32 games, all off the bench, but has started every game this season. Harris has 342 points this year after 145 all of last year. He passed his entire scoring total in the eighth game of the season against Marist with 18 points. He leads all Minutemen in scoring improvement at +15.6 points per game. Harris has scored in double-figures in every game this season with a career-high 25 on four occasions (at Syracuse, at Boston College, at Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph's). He scored more than 15 in each of the first four games, surpassing his freshman-season high of 14 each time.
Senior Etienne Brower has become the force UMass thought he would be after transferring from Boston University. Brower is averaging 11.3 points, starting the first 15 games after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 192 points in the first 17 games after just 59 all of last year in 22 games. He passed his entire total in the fifth game of the season with 75 after the Wis.-Green Bay (11/17) game which he scored a career-high 25 points. Brower has more than 12 points in six of eight games in 07-08 after his season high was just eight last year. His +8.6 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Wis.-Green Bay (11/17) and a breakout game with 18 points against Houston (1/2).
Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in six games this season. he had just four double-figure games in 32 contests last season. He had his career-high of 17 in two of three games at Syracuse (11/28) and against Yale (11/14). Milligan's season-high last year was 10 points which he accomplished twice. Milligan has taken his averages from 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds to 8.3 points and 4.6 rebounds. An increase of 5.0 points and 2.1 rebounds.
Junior Luke Bonner is also seeing more time and making his signature 3-pointers. Bonner, who averaged just 1.6 points in 06-07 is up to 4.7 per game and has made 16-of-38 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
Among The A-10 Leaders
Ricky Harris is second in steals per game with 2.12, which is 50th in the NCAA. Harris is also fifth in the A-10 in scoring with a 20.1 average. He's sixth in 3-pointers per game with 2.76.
After an early season ankle injury, Chris Lowe has returned to his usual form and place amongst the leaders when it comes to point guards. He is second in the league in assists with 5.4 per game. He is also seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio with 1.73. Lowe has averaged 14.1 points and 6.0 assists over 12 games since returning from an ankle injury on Nov. 28. Over three games (Dec. 29-Jan. 5), Lowe averaged 18.0 points per game and shot 62 percent from the floor along with 4.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Lowe is also sixth in the league in steals with 1.73 per game.
Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass as he stands eighth with 352. With five helpers against Charlotte (1/19), he passed Charlton Clarke (350). Next is Anthony Anderson, who had 367. With five assists against CCSU (12/22), he passed BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and then with five more against Houston (1/2), he passed Louisville coach Rick Pitino (329).
Danté Milligan is shooting 64.2 from the floor (52-of-81), but is shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he were eligible, Milligan would rank eighth nationally and second in the A-10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 64.2, an improvement of 14.8 percent.
Milligan is fifth in the Atlantic 10 in blocked shots per game with 1.6. His teammate Tony Gaffney is fourth in the league with 1.71 pr contest.
UMass Continues Home Dominance
Ford-Tough At Home
Forbes Earns National, A-10 Honors
In the win at BC, Forbes also pulled down seven rebounds. For the week, he shot 13-of-28 from the field and 18-for-19 from the line on the week. He was also named A-10 Player of the Week after the second week of the season on Nov. 18.
Forbes was honored by the A-10 for the first time after his outstanding play on Nov. 18 as he was named the Atlantic 10's co-player of the week along with Rhode Island's Will Daniels. Forbes averaged 24.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in three contests between Nov. 11-17. He scored a season-best 29 points, including the 1,000th of his career, on Nov. 11 at Northern Iowa. He added 19 points and nine boards in the Minutemen's 89-80 win over Yale on Nov. 14. Finally, he scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists on Nov. 17 as UMass downed Wisconsin-Green Bay, 93-78. That game was special to Forbes as he played before his father Roberto for the first time in his collegiate career. Roberto was visiting from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia.
UMass Celebrates Ford's Birthday With BU Win
UMass Wins Comm. Classic For First Time Since `99
UMass' athletic teams had great success against Boston College athletic teams in the 2007 calendar year. The Minutemen and Minutewomen have posted a 10-2-1 record against BC in 10 different sports. Most notably, UMass' men's soccer team, which played in the NCAA College Cup on Dec. 7, knocked off No. 1-seeded Boston College on Nov. 28, by the score of 2-1. Additionally, UMass' softball team beat BC twice last spring, while the Minuteman hockey team has a 2-0-1 record against the Eagles, who won the 2007 Hockey East title. One of UMass' losses came in football, where the FBS Eagles were challenged by UMass' FCS team on Sept. 29, in a 24-14 BC win at Alumni Stadium. The Minutemen, who play with only 63 scholarships in the former Division I-AA, were within 17-14 in the fourth quarter.
The win also marked the first win vs. an ACC opponent since the Minutemen defeated Florida State, 78-68 on Feb. 15, 2005.
UMass also defeated alumnus Al Skinner for the first time since 1999, after Skinner had won eight in a row. Skinner is one of four former UMass players to have his number retired. Skinner had his No. 30 retired on Feb. 18, 2004. All-time against his alma mater, Skinner is 11-21
Juicy Bits From The 107-Point Outburst
The 107 points were the most UMass has scored in a regulation game since a 110-97 win over Duquesne on Jan. 6, 1977. It tied for the 11th-most points in a game for UMass as it also scored 107 in a win over Colgate in 1966.
The 207 combined points tied for the third-most points in a game in UMass annals. The record is 233, when UMass lost at Rutgers in triple overtime, 119-114 on Feb. 27, 1988.
The other game with more total points (214) marked the last time UMass played in a game where both teams scored 100 points in a regulation when North Texas beat the Minutemen, 110-104 on Dec. 29, 1982.
UMass continues to be the personal bug-a-boo for Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim. Of schools the legend has faced two or more times, UMass is the ONLY school which Boeheim has never beaten. The Minutemen are 3-0, winning in 1992, 1995 and 2007 against the Orange.
In the epic win, UMass rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to come away with the win. Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with a career-high 25 points while Gary Forbes added 23 points. Forbes also had seven assists and six rebounds in what Travis Ford called his best game at UMass.
Point guard Chris Lowe returned to action after sitting for 14 days of game-action and had 13 points and a career-high tying nine assists.
UMass shot 52 percent from the floor including 14-of-31 from 3-point range. Etienne Brower made 4-of-6 from trey-range.
25 Is Twice As Nice
UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off
2006-07 A Season To Remember
The Minutemen captured a share of the league title on March 3 with a 71-67 win at Saint Joseph's. It marked UMass' first regular-season league title since 1996 and sixth A-10 regular-season crown overall. The Minutemen won five straight regular-season titles from 1992-96 and proceeded to win the A-10 Tournament each time.
The Minutemen went 24-9 overall and had the best season since the 1995-96 Final Four year when they went 35-2 in finishing as a national semifinalist. UMass finished with a 13-3 record in the Atlantic 10. UMass had its best conference record since going a school-record 15-1 in 1995-96. Prior to the loss to Saint Louis in the A-10s, the Minutemen had won six games in a row overall, their longest win streak since capturing 10 games in a row in Jan.-Feb. 1998.
UMass senior Stephane Lasme was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07. Lasme is the first UMass player to be named the league's top player since Marcus Camby in 1996 and fourth overall joining Camby, Lou Roe (1995) and Harper Williams (1992). Lasme was named an AP Honorable Mention All-American following the season. He was UMass' first All-American honoree since Camby in 1996.
Lasme was joined by senior Rashaun Freeman on the A-10 First Team. Freeman is the first player since Saint Joseph's Jameer Nelson (2001-04) to be a three-time first-team selection.
Lasme is the second player to be named the league's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same campaign joining Pepe Sanchez of Temple in 1999 and David West of Xavier in 2002. Lasme joined Tony Dobbins of Richmond (2002-04) as the only players in league history to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors in successive seasons. Lasme was also named to the All-Defensive Team for the second year in row.
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