UMass Hosts Rival URI, Thursday, On Black Out Night
Feb. 4, 2008
UMASS (14-7, 3-4) vs. RHODE ISLAND (19-3, 5-2)
UMass Hosts Rival URI, Thursday, On Black Out Night
UMass (14-7, 3-4 Atlantic 10) will look to get back on track after dropping three of its last four games including its lowest scoring output the season in its last game. Saint Louis picked up a 71-59 win over the Minutemen on Saturday afternoon in Missouri. Gary Forbes led UMass wil 20 points, keeping his string of 25 consecutive games in double-figures in tact. He has 20 or more in 13 of 21 games this season and leads the Minutemen with a 20.4 scoring average. Sophomore Ricky Harris had a season-low six points, and stands second on the team with a 19.3 average giving UMass two scorers in the NCAA's Top 40. With Forbes at 30th and Harris at 34th, UMass is the only school in the nation with a pair of top-40 scorers.
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 former Minuteman Tim Collins.
Thursday's game is huge for standings in the hottly contested Atlantic 10. Rhode Island stands in third place at 5-2 in the league while UMass is 3-4 to be tied for seventh in the league. It is the first of two meetings between the teams, with the second coming on Feb. 21 at the Ryan Center, in a game that will be televised live on ESPN2 starting at 7 p.m.
Rising In The RPI
UMass is one of seven teams in the nation (including three in the A-10, Charlotte and Xavier) with seven wins over Top 100 teams. UMass' wins are over No. 34 Syracuse, No. 95 Marist, No. 82 Boston College, No. 70 Houston, No. 13 Dayton, No. 88 Charlotte and No. 98 Duquesne.
The Series With Rhode Island
The teams split last season's games with Rhode Island winning the first game, 75-72 on Jan. 24, at the Ryan Center. UMass won the second meeting at the Mullins Center, 77-55 on Feb. 7, 2007, which was also Black Out Night.
The teams split the last four games with the home team winning all four times. That includes two season's games with each team winning at home. UMass beat URI, 63-61 on Feb. 4, 2006 to gain a measure of revenge for the loss to open the season series. Rhode Island won the first game at URI, 58-55 on Jan. 25. Two seasons ago, UMass won both games winning at URI, 49-44, in a defensive struggle on Feb. 9, 2005 and again at the Mullins Center, 70-64, on Feb. 23, 2005.
UMass has won 29 of the last 40 games in the series, and the teams have split the last 12 meetings dating to 2002. That includes sweeps by UMass in 2005 and URI in 2003. UMass has won 15 of the last 19 games played at home in the series. Overall, for games played in Amherst, the Minutemen lead the series 45-20, with a 10-4 mark at the Mullins Center.
For games played in Kingston, the Rams lead the series 35-25, with the teams splitting the four games at the Ryan Center which opened in 2002-03.
UMass coach Travis Ford is 2-2 vs. the Rams, while Rhode Island coach Jim Baron stands 12-21 against UMass (6-6 since moving to Kingston in 2002).
Last Season's Meetings
AT THE MULLINS CENTER (FEB. 8, 2007): UMass jumped out to a 23-5 run and held Rhode Island to 0-for-11 shooting in the first 11 minutes of the Feb. 8th game cruising to a convincing 77-55 win in front of a rowdy 8,358 at the Mullins Center on the first annual Black Out Night. The Minutemen now take over first place in the Atlantic 10 and at 17-6 overall (7-2 A-10) have their most wins in a season since the 1999-00 campaign. Stephane Lasme had his third triple-double of the season which makes him the eighth player in NCAA history to accomplish three-or-more in one season. Lasme finished the game with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. Gary Forbes scored 22 points. Rhode Island was led by Baron's 17 point effort and 10 points from Joe Mbang. Baron was the only Ram to shoot 50 percent from the floor on the night as he hit 7-of-14 shots. Mbang led the team in rebounding with 10 boards.
Welcome Home Thorr With Rhode Island
Scoring, More and More
With the new offense, UMass is scoring at a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 83.2 points per game, up from 77.0 points (+6.2) through 21 games last season and 77.3 points (+5.9) for the entire season.
UMass is sixth in the NCAA in scoring through Feb. 4 with 83.2 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 20th in total 3-pointers made with 186. With 8.9 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 7.6 per game. UConn (8.7) and Mississippi State (8.7) and lead the nation.
UMass has five games with 10 or more blocks most recently its outing at Duquesne (1/30) with 10.
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 19.3 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 406 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 +14.2 points per game. Harris scored in double-figures in the first 18 games this season and in 19 of 21 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 247 points in the first 21 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 is averaging 18.3 points in his last three games including 22 vs. Xavier (1/27). 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 7.8 points and 5.0 rebounds. An increase of 4.5 points and 2.5 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 4.4 per game and has made 18-of-46 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
Among The A-10 Leaders
Harris is second in steals per game with 2.0. He's seventh in 3-pointers per game with 2.57.
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 5.11 per game. He is also eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio with 1.73. Lowe has averaged 12.8 points and 5.4 assists over 16 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 moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass as he stands seventh with 367. After passing Anthony Anderson (367) at Saint Louis (2/2), next on the list is Anton Brown (417). 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 tied for third with 1.76 blocks per game including a career-high six at Duquesne.
Danté Milligan is shooting 62.6 from the floor (62-of-99), 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 62.6, an improvement of 13.2 percent.
Milligan is tied with Gaffney for third in the Atlantic 10 in blocked shots per game with 1.76.
UMass Continues Home Dominance
Ford-Tough At Home
UMass Against Ranked Teams
This season the Minutemen are 1-2 against ranked teams, losing at then-No. 15 Vanderbilt on Jan. 5, 97-88, in Nashville and falling 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.
For the week of Jan. 21, UMass received 47 votes in the AP Poll to effectively rank the Minutemen No. 31. It was the most points UMass received since the 1998-99 season. UMass was 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 the same weeks of Jan. 7 and Jan. 14, it was the first time 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.
For the Jan. 21 week, UMass received votes 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.
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.
Beating the ACC & Big East
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 against Green Bay (11/17). 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 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 basketball 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.
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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