UMass Hosts Saint Louis In Battle Of A-10 Top Teams
• UMass and Saint Louis look to break-up a five-way log jam atop the Atlantic 10 standings as both the Minutemen and the Billikens enter Saturday Mullins Center match-up tied for first place. Both teams enter the weekend with 16 wins and 4-2 records in league play.
• UMass is coming off a week’s rest after playing last Saturday in the 79-68 win at Richmond. Saint Louis snapped Xavier’s 43-game home winning streak - the longest in A-10 history - on Wednesday night with a 73-68 road win.
• UMass will once again look to stay undefeated at home this season after reeling off 10 wins in front of the hometown faithful. UMass is 9-0 in the Mullins Center and 1-0 in The Cage.
• 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 color analysts Tim Collins and Jason Germain will call the action. Live audio and Gameracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES WITH SAINT LOUIS
• This will be just the 11th meeting between the two teams and ninth since the Billikens joined the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06. Saint Louis leads the all-time series, 7-3, after having won the last three games: 69-53 at SLU (2/2/11), 69-54 at UMass on Feb. 21, 2010 and three year’s ago, 69-64 in Missouri.
• The teams have played 10 games at six different facilities: Scottrade/Kiel Center (1995, 2008), Georgia Dome (1998), St. Charles Family Arena (2006), Mullins Center (2007, 2008, 2010), Boardwalk Hall (2007), Chaifetz Center (2009, 2011).
MORE ON THE SAINT LOUIS SERIES
• UMass has won just one game in St. Louis, posting a 1-4 mark with losses at Chaifetz in 2009, Scottrade in 2008 and in St. Charles in 2006. UMass is 2-1 in games at the Mullins Center vs. Saint Louis, winning in 2007 and 2008.
• The teams split the two meetings in in 2007 and 2008 with UMass winning twice at the Mullins Center including the last match-up at home, 88-77 on Feb. 17, 2008. That game was the Leaman Legacy Game in Amherst and UMass had five players score in double-figures led by Danté Milligan (21).
• UMass and Saint Louis met in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament with the Billikens winning 51-46. That game was the last time the Minutemen made the NCAA Tournament. Larry Hughes scored 18 points, Matt Baniak tallied 12 and Virgil Cobbin added 11 in the win. Monty Mack was the sole double-figure scorer for UMass with 10 points. SLU dropped the next game in the Regional to Kentucky, 88-61.
• UMass won the first meeting between the two teams 80-74 on Jan. 5, 1995 in the A-10/Great Midwest Challenge. That game was UMass’ first game at the Scottrade Center, which was known as the Kiel Center at the time.
• UMass head coach Derek Kellogg will coach against the Billikens for the fourth time as the headman.
• Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus is 5-1 against UMass. He faced the Minutemen once, while he was at Utah. The Utes downed UMass, 69-53 in the 2002 Maui Invitational.
Up Next: Rhode Island
• Wednesday’s game against Rhode Island will be the 137th between the schools, easily the most played series in UMass’ history. UMass has faced UConn 108 times, the only other series with more than 100 meetings. The Minutemen also have more wins over Rhode Island than any other program, holding a 79-57 advantage dating to the first game on Jan. 11, 1908, a 32-14 UMass win in Amherst.
• UMass has won 35 of the last 48 games in the series. That includes sweeps by UMass in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2011 and URI in 1999, 2003.
• UMass has won seven of the last nine in the series including both of the meetings in 2008.
• 6 of the last 12 meetings have been decided by 3 points or less including 2 of the last 5 by 2 points or fewer.
• Removing the 2007 22-point UMass win, the average margin of victory in the last 16 games is 5.0 points.
• UMass has won 19 of the last 24 games played at home in the series. Overall, for games played in Amherst, the Minutemen lead the series 49-20, with a 12-4 mark at the Mullins Center, the second-most wins against any team at the Mullins Center (Temple 13).
• For games played in Kingston, the Rams lead the series 35-29. UMass holds a 5-4 edge in the nine games at the Ryan Center which opened in 2002-03.
• UMass coach Derek Kellogg is 3-2 as a coach against the Rams. As a player at UMass from 1992-95, the Minutemen were 9-1 vs. Rhode Island, losing once in 1993 at Providence.
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 15.9 points and 5.9 assists in 20 games. He is shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 37th nationally in steals with 2.2 per game and 23rd nationally with 5.9 assists per game.
• Over the last five games, Williams has hit 32 consecutive free throws which ties Donta Bright (1996) for the single-season record for consecutive free throws made against conference opponents. The school record for the most consecutive made free throws is 40 which was also set by Bright in 1996.
• 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.
BEST HOME START SINCE 1992-93 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 76.9 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 +7.6 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 17.5 turnovers per game and scored 20.0 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 20 games, UMass has shot .430 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 five games shooting 30-of-38 from the floor to average 13.6 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, Chaz Williams (18.0 pts), Jesse Morgan (14.2 pts), and Sean Carter (13.6 pts) have averaged double-figures.
• Free throw shooting has also improved over the last five games with UMass hitting 78.6 percent compared to 67.1 percent overall for the season.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
• UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging just over 41 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 with 41.4 and tied for 5th 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 15 games won this year, UMass is 137-of-363 from three-point land and average 14.3 turnovers per game. In 5 games lost, UMass is just 23-of-110 from deep and average 19.8 turnovers.
• Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average nearly 18 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 10.4 in the five losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up nearly 6.7 assists in wins, but just 3.8 in each of the four losses.
BALANCED SCORING AMONG UMASS ROTATION
• While Chaz Williams may be the only Minuteman averaging double-figures in the scoring column this season, however, UMass is a well-balanced scoring team. In 11 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.
• Raphiael Putney, Jesse Morgan, and Terrell Vinson are close to a double-figure scoring average at 9.6, 9.0 and 8.8 points per game, respectively.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 20 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 9.0 points in 23.5 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 9.6 points and is averaging over two more rebounds per game (3.0-to-5.3)
• 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 8.8 points in 25 minutes per game.
DEPTH OFF THE BENCH KEY
• UMass has received quite a lift from its bench this 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).
• 35.5% (547-of-1539 points) of UMass’ scoring has come from the bench.