Long-Time New England Rivalry Renewed As UMass Faces Rhody
• For the 137th time, the UMass basketball team and Rhode Island will meet on the hardwood on Wednesday night as the Minutemen head to the Ryan Center. Both teams are coming off signature wins as the Minutemen defeated Saint Louis last weekend and Rhode Island won on the road at Dayton.
• The series against Rhode Island is the longest in program history by nearly 30 games. That familiarity has turned these games into one of the most intense rivalries in all of New England basketball.
• 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 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.
MORE ON THE RHODE ISLAND SERIES
• 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.
Up Next: George Washington
• UMass will conclude its stretch of playing four of its last five games on the road this weekend when it travels to the nation’s capital to face George Washington, Saturday night at 7 p.m.
• GW leads the series 35-26, including a 20-5 mark in Foggy Bottom. UMass has the edge since Jan. 1992, claiming a 17-13 margin. Prior to dropping the most recent two games, the Minutemen had won 10 of the last 13.
• UMass has won two of the three overtime games in the series, including the most recent extra-session contest - a 76-74 win at the Charles E. Smith Center in 2005.
• 7 of the last 10 meetings have been decided by 10 points or less with each of the last nine at GW falling into that same range.
WILLIAMS IS 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 16.0 points and 6.0 assists in 21 games. He is shooting 39.0 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 47th nationally in steals with 2.0 per game and 22nd nationally with 6.0 assists per game.
• Prior to a first-half miss against Saint Louis, Williams hit 33 consecutive free throws over a six-game stretch which broke Donta Bright’s (1996) 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.
PUTNEY TAKING FLIGHT
• One of the keys to UMass’ success this season has been the play of redshirt-sophomore Raphiael Putney. The forward is UMass second leading scorer this year with 10.2 points per game and 5.6 rebounds. An athletic player, Putney’s ability to elevate above the rim has gained him noteriety and popularity among the fans - his amazing dunk in transition against Saint Joseph’s was a Sports Center Top-10 Play and a nominee for the GEICO Play of the Year.
• Putney has three double-doubles this season including a career-best 22 points and 10 rebounds last Saturday against Saint Louis.
BEST HOME START SINCE 1992-93 SEASON
• With a 11-0 home record to start the season (10-0 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 76.7 points per game, UMass is the top ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10 and 30th nationally. The Minutemen are one of eight 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 +7.9 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 17.4 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 21 games, UMass has shot .432 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 six games shooting 35-of-45 from the floor to average 13.3 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 (17.0 pts), Raphiael Putney (13.4), Jesse Morgan (10.8 pts), and Sean Carter (12.4 pts) have averaged double-figures.
• Free throw shooting has also improved over the last five games with UMass hitting 80.8 percent compared to 67.7 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 41.1 and 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 16 games won this year, UMass is 142-of-374 from three-point land and average 14.4 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 and Raphiael Putney may be the only Minutemen 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.
• Jesse Morgan and Terrell Vinson are close to a double-figure scoring average at 8.8 and 8.7 points per game, respectively.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 21 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 8.8 points in 24.0 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-5.6)
• 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 8.7 points in nearly 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 three (College of Charleston, La Salle, and Saint Louis).
• 34.3% (553-of-1,611 points) of UMass’ scoring has come from the bench.