Minutemen Wrap Up Road Trip With Visit To Saint Louis
Feb. 1, 2008
UMASS (14-6, 3-3) at SAINT LOUIS (11-9, 2-4)
Minutemen Wrap Up Road Trip With Visit To Saint Louis
Saturday's game will be carried by the CSTV Networks with a 2 p.m. (ET)/1 p.m. (CT) start at the Scottrade Center, home of the NHL's St. Louis Blues. Jonathan Coachman, of WWE fame, will call the action along side former UCLA basketball player Sean Farnham. The game will be carried by CN8 up and down the east coast including New England. Comcast SportsNet Chicago and KPLR in St. Louis will carry the game as well. Streaming video will be available on UMass All-Access on UMassAthletics.com as well.
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.
After scoring 94 points on Wednesday, UMass' scoring average is up to 84.4, sixth in the nation and second in the A-10 behind only Duquesne (85.7). Saint Louis is 333rd in the NCAA in scoring average, producing just 57.6 points per game. UMass has scored 80 or more points in 13 of 20 games, Saint Louis has done it just twice.
UMass is the only school in the nation with a pair of 20-points per game scorers Gary Forbes (20.4) and Ricky Harris (20.0). Forbes stands 30th and Harris 34th in the nation, making UMass the only program with two players in the top 35 in the NCAA scoring.
Getting It Done In 3s
The Minutemen also had three players grab 10 rebounds in a game for the first time since 1999. UMass was led by Tony Gaffney, who also had a career-high six blocked shots, with 12. Dante Milligan had 11 rebounds and Forbes had 10 to give him his fourth double-double of the season.
Rising In The RPI
UMass-Saint Louis Series
Last season's regular-season game was a thriller at the Mullins Center with UMass posting a 53-50 win on Feb. 24, 2007.
With Saint Louis joining the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06, the teams played in Missouri for the second time on Jan. 14, 2006, when the Billikens pulled out a 50-48 win in St. Charles.
The teams split the two engagements as non-conference foes.
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' only other game at the Scottrade Center, which was known as the Kiel Center at the time.
UMass head coach Travis Ford coaches against SLU for the fifth time in his career. He is 1-2 while at UMass. Prior to coming to UMass, he coached Eastern Kentucky in a 64-58 loss at the Savvis Center in the 2003-04 season opener for both teams on Nov. 21, 2003.
New Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus has coached against UMass once, while he was at Utah. The Utes downed the Minutemen, 69-53 in thw 2002 Maui Invitational.
LAST YEAR'S ATLANTIC 10 TOURNAMENT GAME (MARCH 8, 2007): It was a reversal of fortune for Saint Louis guard Tommie Liddell as he forced a steal with six second remaining in overtime to preserve a 74-71 overtime win against UMass in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinal. In the earlier meeting between the two teams last year, it was a Liddell turnover that led to a UMass win during the regular season at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen held a 29-24 lead at halftime, but Saint Louis used an 11-2 run in the second half to climb back into the game. The second half was back and forth until the end of regulation as the teams were tied at 65 forcing the overtime. In a game highlighted by 14 lead changes and 13 ties, UMass ran out of gas in the overtime period falling behind by as many as seven before the Minutemen clawed within two before Liddell's defensive play. Liddell finished with a game-high 24 points and Billiken bigman Ian Vouyoukas added 21 points. UMass had four players in double figures led by Gary Forbes who had 13 points. The Minutemen went without senior Rashaun Freeman who fouled out with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation.
LAST REGULAR-SEASON GAME (FEB. 24, 2007): It took some last minute heroics from Gary Forbes and James Life, but UMass was able to withstand Saint Louis 53-50 in front of a near sellout crowd of 9,088. Life nailed a three-pointer and hit two free throws and Forbes iced the game stealing the ball away from Billikens guard Tommie Liddell with 6.5 seconds remaining and then hitting two more free throws to give the final score. Two more free throws by Life gave UMass the lead once again before Forbes stole the ball from Liddell with 6.5 seconds remaining just past half court. Forbes drove straight to the basket but was fouled on the way up and missed the lay-in with 1.9 seconds to go. The only UMass player to finish the night in double-figures, Forbes converted both free throws and Dante Milligan stole the SLU inbounds pass to seal the game.
Connections With Saint Louis/Missouri
Ford will have close to 25 family members and friends at the game with this trip being one the closest UMass comes to his native state of Kentucky. St. Louis is roughly four hours from Ford's hometown of Madisonville, Ky.
Middleton's wife ReGina is a native of St. Louis and the Middletons will have a contingent of about 30 fans on hand at the game.
Ford is also returning to the state where he collegiate career began, as began his career at the University of Missouri. He played the 1989-90 season for Norm Stewart's Tigers and was named to the Big Eight All-Freshman Team before transferring to Kentucky to play for UMass alum Rick Pitino.
Scoring, More and More
With the new offense, UMass is scoring at a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 84.4 points per game, up from 77.5 points (+6.9) through 20 games last season and 77.3 points (+7.1) for the entire season.
UMass is sixth in the NCAA in scoring through Jan. 31 with 84.4 per game. The Minutemen are also second in the Atlantic 10 scoring behind No. 3 Duquesne (85.7). VMI leads the nation with a 93.3 average.
UMass is the only squad with two players scoring 20 points per game and only program with two players in the in the Top 40 NCAA scoring leaders as of Jan. 31 with Gary Forbes 30th with a 20.4 average and Ricky Harris at 34th with 20.0 per game.
UMass is 20th in total 3-pointers made with 184. With 9.3 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 third in 2007-08 with 7.7 per game. UConn (8.7) and Mississippi State (8.6) and lead the nation.
UMass has five games with 10 or more blocks including its last outing with 10 at Duquesne.
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 20.0 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 400 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 +15.5 points per game. Harris scored in double-figures in the first 18 games this season and in 19 of 20 overall with a career-high 30 at Saint Joseph's (1/23). He also scored 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 11.8 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 235 points in the first 20 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 +9.1 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Wis.-Green Bay (11/17), 22 points against #23/22 Xavier (1/27) and 18 points against Houston (1/2).
Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in seven 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 8.1 points and 5.2 rebounds. An increase of 4.8 points and 2.3 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 4.5 per game and has made 18-of-44 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
Among The A-10 Leaders
Harris is first in steals per game with 2.05, which is 45th in the NCAA. He's sixth in 3-pointers per game with 2.70.
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 5.22 per game. He is also eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio with 1.77. Lowe has averaged 13.5 points and 5.5 assists over 15 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 13th in the league in steals with 1.5 per game.
Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass as he stands eighth with 365. Next is Anthony Anderson, who had 367. With five helpers against Charlotte (1/19), he passed Charlton Clarke (350). 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).
Tony Gaffney stands third with 1.75 blocks per game after a career-high six at Duquesne.
Danté Milligan is shooting 62.9 from the floor (61-of-97), but is shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he were eligible, Milligan would rank ninth nationally and second in the A-10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 62.9, an improvement of 13.5 percent.
Milligan is fifth in the Atlantic 10 in blocked shots per game with 1.7.
UMass Against Ranked Teams
This season the Minutemen also lost at then-No. 15 Vanderbilt on Jan. 5, 97-88, in Nashville. UMass fell to #23/22 Xavier on Jan. 27, 77-65, at the Mullins Center.
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 1-6 at UMass after going 0-9 while coaching at Eastern Kentucky from 2000-05.
All-time, UMass is 30-67 against ranked teams.
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, it was the first since the 2003 season, the A-10 had three ranked teams.
This week, Xavier is No. 15. Dayton, Rhode Island and Saint Joseph's are including in "Others Receiving Votes".
UMass also played No. 14 Vanderbilt (17-3), one of the final five undefeated teams in the nation, in a 97-88 loss on January 5.
Last week, UMass receivedvotes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll for the first time this season with nine points. Effectively, UMass was 33rd in the nation according to that poll. Last season, UMass received one vote in March for its only other time with points in the last two seasons.
Beating the ACC & Big East
UMass Continues Home Dominance
Ford-Tough At Home
Harris Earns A-10, National Honors
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 Wins Commonwealth Classic
UMass' athletic teams have 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
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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