• Coming off a road split last week that saw UMass keep pace with the lead pack of the Atlantic 10, the Minutemen return home for a pair of games at the Mullins Center, hosting Rhode Island on Wednesday night before celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Mullins Center Saturday against Saint Joseph’s in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.
• All told, UMass will play three of its next four at home while embarking on one of the toughest stretches of its schedule. Seven of its next eight games are against teams within three games of first place in the league standings.
• The 2012-13 season marks the fifth for head coach Derek Kellogg ... Kellogg starred as a point guard for the Minutemen from 1992-95, playing for coach John Calipari ... Kellogg spent a year as a graduate assistant with Bruiser Flint at UMass, two years at George Mason with Jim Larranaga and eight at Memphis with Calipari, culminating with the 2008 NCAA Runner-up season ... UMass’ win totals under Kellogg have gone 12, 12, 15 and 25 last season with an NIT FInal Four appearance.
• The Minutemen are shooting 42.1 pct. from the field, 31.5 pct. from outside and 69.6 pct. from the free throw line, while averaging 71.8 points per game overall. In seven A-10 games, those numbers are 44.3 pct., 32.0 pct., 67.4 pct. and 70.0 ppg.
• UMass averages 7.1 3-pointers made and 22.6 attempts per game. The Minutemen have 160 steals thus far for 8.0 spg, which ranks 73rd in the nation. Last season, UMass collected a school-record 326 steals and 8.8 spg. UMass is also 41st in blocked shots with 4.9 bpg.
• Junior PG Chaz Williams leads the A-10 in assists (7.0, ninth in NCAA) and double-digit assist performances (3). He is also averaging 16.6 points (sixth in the A-10) and shooting 44 pct from outside in seven A-10 games.
• UMass was listed at No. 47 in the latest edition of the NCAA RPI, following weeks of 45, 49, 60 and 53 when public reporting began five weeks ago.
SERIES HISTORY WITH RHODE ISLAND
• Wednesday’s game against Rhode Island will be the 139th 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 an 80-58 advantage dating to the first game on Jan. 11, 1908, a 32-14 UMass win in Amherst. The teams have met six times in conference tournament play, with the Minutemen holding a 4-2 edge dating back to the 1981 Eastern 8 Tournament.
• UMass has won 36 of the last 50 games in the series. That includes season sweeps by UMass in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2011 and URI in 1999 and 2003. The Minutemen’s two longest win streaks also came during the stretch, collecting eight-straight from 1990-93 and 10-straight form 1993-98.
• UMass has won 20 of the last 25 games played at home in the series. Overall, for games played in Amherst, the Minutemen lead the series 50-20, with a 13-4 mark at the Mullins Center, tied for the most wins against any team at the Mullins Center (Temple 13).
• UMass coach Derek Kellogg is 4-3 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.
• LAST SEASON IN AMHERST: Jesse Morgan was perfect from the floor and connected on all six 3-pointers for a career-high 25 points to lead Massachusetts to a 89-83 win over Rhode Island on Senior Day. While Morgan was doing his thing from the outside, senior center Sean Carter concluded with his third career double-double as he finished with a career-high 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three blocks. Chaz Williams added 19 points, nine assists, six boards and five steals. The Minutemen shot 43 percent from the floor and connected on 14 3-pointers, their second-highest total this season. Rhode Island shot 44 percent and was led by Orion Outerbridge’s 24 points. Jonathan Holton pitched in with 18 points and 11 rebounds. The game featured six ties and 10 lead changes but none over the final 6:30. With URI having taken a 72-71 lead on a pair of Outerbridge free throws, UMass went on a 14-0 run that ended with seven second-chance points.
• On Wednesday night, UMass came away with some more late-game heroics as Chaz Williams’ running layup with 8.1 seconds left proved to be the difference in the 61-60 victory at La Salle, snapping a four-game losing skid at Tom Gola Arena.
• But that was just the latest in a string of thrilling wins this season for UMass, who is 9-2 in games decided by 5 points or less.
• Nov. 13: Sampson Carter 3-pointer with 1.2 left beats Harvard 73-70 in ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.
• Nov. 15: Terrell Vinson tip-in off Chaz Williams miss as time expires to beat Providence in Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
• Nov. 28: Chaz Williams 5-footer off the glass with 3.3 seconds left completes 17-point comeback in 64-63 win at Siena.
• Jan. 30: Chaz Williams driving layup with 8.1 seconds left lifts UMass to 61-60 win at La Salle. Raphiael Putney partially blocks Jerrell Wright’s baseline jumper and Cady Lalanne secures the rebound as time expires to snap a four-game losing streak at Tom Gola Arena.
• It hasn’t always been UMass with the ball and a chance to win... Jan. 2: Leading 70-69 at Miami (Ohio), Carter misses a 3-pointer with 10 seconds to play but Red Hawk guard Will Sullivan misses a layup before Putney corrals the rebound as time expires.
• And the two losses in a game decided by 5 points or less...
• Jan. 19: Trailing 77-74 against George Wash., Freddie Riley is fouled attempting a 3-pointer with 3.0 seconds left. The senior missed the first and made the last two before having to foul the Colonials, who made two free throws to account for the 79-76 final score as the Minutemen were unable to get a shot off.
• Feb. 2: After rebounding a pair of missed Charlotte free throws with 14.8 seconds left, Chaz Williams drives but lost the ball when he made contact with a pair of 49er defenders near the right elbow as UMass lost 66-65.
SHOTS FALLING FROM INSIDE THE ARC AT HIGH RATE IN LAST 5 GAMES
• While its no secret UMass has struggled to shoot the ball consistently from outside, the Minutemen have made great strides in their 2-point field goal shooting in recent weeks.
• Over the past five games, UMass has shot 52.3 pct from inside the arc with all five games at 43 pct. overall. While the Minutemen are still going to shoot the ball from outside - they have posted their three lowest totals for 3-pointers attempted in three of the past four games - the squad has gone inside more and recorded 2-point field goal totals of .526 against both Duquesne and George Washington, .690 against Richmond, .458 at La Salle and .516 at Charlotte.
FRONTLINE SCORING COMING ON STRONG IN A-10 PLAY
• UMass has seen an increase in the production of its interior players over the past few weeks. The quintet of Sampson Carter, Maxie Esho, Cady Lalanne, Raphiael Putney and Terrell Vinson have combined to average 40 points per game over the last eight contests and 41.0 in seven Atlantic 10 outings. Putney (17), Esho (11), Lalanne (9) and Vinson (7) were the top four scorers last week at La Salle and combined for 44 of the 61 points (72 pct.).
• As a team, UMass has scored at least 30 points in the paint in six of its last seven games, with at least 34 in three of its last four contests.
• UMass is 9-0 this season when outscoring its opponent in the paint and 11-0 when the totals are identical or in the Minutemen’s favor.
RILEY FINDING HIS NICHE
• With the season-ending knee injury to Jesse Morgan, senior Freddie Riley has been inserted in to the starting lineup and made the most of his opportunity. Over the past eight games he has averaged 10.5 points while shooting .392 from the floor and .400 from outside.
• He has also set career-highs for minutes played in a recent consecutive four-game stretch with an all-time-best 40 against Richmond 10 days ago.
• He enters the week ranked sixth all-time at UMass with 193 3-pointers made.
UMASS GETTING THE TRANSITION GAME GOING
• One of the primary factors during its strong play of late has been UMass’ ability to put together some momentum-building scoring runs, while limiting its opponent’s opportunities. The Minutemen collected their third-most lopsided scoring stretch when they outscored Duquesne 32-15 over much of the latter part of the first half, turning a 3-point deficit into a 17-point lead with five seconds to play in the period. They also rode a 14-2 run over the final seven minutes to pull away after the Dukes had trimmed the margin to 65-52.
• This season the Minutemen have compiled 22 scoring runs where the margin was at least nine points, compared to 12 by their opponents and just seven over the last 15 games (two of those were by George Washington two weeks ago).
MINUTEMEN CUTTING DOWN ON THE FOULS
• Over the course of the first eight games this season, UMass averaged 22.1 fouls per game with 20 or more six times. Over the past 12 games, the Minutemen have averaged just 17.5 violations - including season-lows of 10 against Duquesne and 11 at La Salle in recent action - and just four 20-plus games (2 of those were in losses to SLU and GW when the team was forced to foul late in the game).
UMASS NEVER OUT OF A GAME
• With the style of play and mentality that Derek Kellogg has implemented at UMass, just about any deficit can be overcome. UMass erased a 12-point deficit in defeating Ohio, marking the second time this season and the sixth time in the last two seasons it has overcome a double-digit hole to win a game.
• Three weeks earlier at Siena, the Minutemen trailed by 17 points (33-16) before outscoring the Saints 45-12 over a period of 13:02 for a 51-45 lead at the midway point of the second half, eventually getting a running jumper by Chaz Williams with 3.3 seconds left to win the game. It was the third time in the last 11 months that UMass has erased a 17-point deficit and won - at home against Saint Joseph’s and at Drexel in the NIT Quarterfinals.
• The Minutemen trailed by as many as 16 in the second half against George Washington before climbing back to within one twice in the final 15 seconds. Despite running out of time against the Colonials, it’s another example of the comeback abilities of UMass.
1,000-POINT CLUB GAINS NEW MEMBERS
• Junior PG Chaz Williams scored his 1,000 career point in the win over Siena and was joined two weeks later by senior F Terrell Vinson. Vinson finished with 10 points against Northern Illinois to become the 44th member of the 1,000-Point Club at UMass. He now ranks 33rd at UMass with 1,107 points following his career-high 23 points at Charlotte on Saturday.
WE LOVE THE MULLINS CENTER
• That’s probably a pretty accurate statement from the men’s basketball program over the past couple of years as the squad is 20-3 at the Mullins Center since the start of last season and 22-3 in home games.
• UMass was dominant at home last season, posting a 15-1 record in Amherst, which included a 14-1 record at the Mullins Center (1-0 at historic Curry Hicks Cage) and a renewed home-court advantage with the student-based Mullins Militia. UMass averaged 4,359 fans in 15 dates last season. Those numbers got increasingly higher as the season evolved to 5,411 for eight A-10 home games and 6,614 for the last five regular-season home dates. The Minutemen saw four crowds of more than 6,200 in the final six games, with a season-high 8,399 in the victory over Saint Louis.
• UMass is in its 20th season of play at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center and has posted an all-time record of 187-77 (.710) following the George Washington game. The Minutemen also own a 104-49 (.682) all-time record in regular-season Atlantic 10 Conference games at the Mullins Center, and a 4-2 mark in Atlantic 10 Tournament contests. The first game was played on Feb. 4, 1993 as UMass defeated West Virginia 64-59 in overtime.
UMASS TURNING INTO ROAD WARRIORS
• The Minutemen now hold a 6-2 record on the road this season and a 2-2 mark in A-10 play. Prior to its loss at Saint Louis in the opening week of league play, the Minutemen had won seven-consecutive road games dating back to the postseason NIT run last year - a figure that ranked as the third-longest active streak in the country. The last time they won as many true road games was during the 1997-98 season when Bruiser Flint’s second team reeled-off seven-consecutive in opposing arenas.
• Last season UMass went 2-6 on the road in A-10 action, collecting wins at George Washington and Richmond. The eight road opponents this season - Charlotte, Fordham, La Salle, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, VCU and Xavier - combined to go 44-21 at home in 11-12.
Jesse Morgan OUT FOR SEASON WITH ACL INJURY
• Junior guard Jesse Morgan was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee two weeks ago. He suffered the injury early in the second half of UMass’ loss at Saint Louis in the A-10 opener.He underwent surgery last Friday, February 1.
• At the time of the injury, he was UMass’ second leading scorer at 14.5 ppg and leading 3-point shooter with 37-of-104 for .356. He ranked 37th in the NCAA in 3-pointers per game and 81st in 3-point FG pct. His .808 free throw pct. was also first on the team.
• The injury was his second this season, following a broken right wrist he sustained in July that saw him miss three months.
WILLIAMS NAMED TO BOB COUSY AWARD WATCH LIST
• After posting a banner season in 2011-12 in his first season playing for UMass, junior point guard Chaz Williams has garnered national attention for running the fast-paced Minuteman offense. Last Thursday, the Brooklyn native received yet another accolade as he was named to the 2013 Bob Cousy Award Watch List.
• The award is given annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation’s top point guard in college basketball and is named after Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy.
• In 2011-12, Williams earned NABC First Team All-District 4 honors in addition to being named to the All-Atlantic 10 First-Team and the Atlantic 10 All-Tournament Team. He averaged 16.9 points per game and 6.3 assists. The addition of the transfer from Hofstra helped guide UMass to the NIT Final Four last year before a lose to Stanford in the Semifinals.
• Through 12 games in 2012-13, Williams leads the team in scoring with 15.6 points per game and leads the A-10 with 7.3 assists - which ranks seventh nationally.
FOUR STARTERS, 9 LETTERMEN BACK FROM 25-WIN SQUAD
• UMass welcomes back four starters, including its top four scorers and nine of its top 10 rebounders from last season's team that went 25-12 and reached the NIT Final Four. Led by All-America candidate Chaz Williams at the point guard spot, the Minutemen will look to continue their up-tempo offensive style and full-court pressure defense in head coach Derek Kellogg's (64-65) fifth year at his alma mater.
• UMass returns the following percentages in 2012-13: Scoring 89.3 pct.; Rebounding 83.2 pct.; Assists 94.7 pct.; Steals 91.7 pct.; Blocks 76.7 pct.; Minutes 85.4 pct.
• Williams (16.9 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.4 rpg), a first team NABC all-district and all-conference selection, was one of just three players in Division I last year to average at least 16.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. The others were Tim Frazier of Penn State and Nate Wolters of South Dakota State.
• UMass recorded a school-record 326 steals last season (8.8 spg, 7th in NCAA) which aided in its 76.6 possessions per game, ranking the Minutemen second nationally behind Seattle's 77.2.
UMASS TO RETIRE MARCUS CAMBY'S NO. 21 JERSEY
• The Massachusetts athletic department announced Tuesday that it will retire the jersey of 1996 Naismith National Player of the Year Marcus Camby on Jan. 19, 2013 when the Minutemen host George Washington at the Mullins Center.
• One of the most decorated athletes UMass has ever produced, Camby lettered from 1993-96 and led the Minutemen to the 1996 NCAA Final Four and a 35-2 record, the most successful season in program history. He was named a consensus first-team All-American that season as he averaged 20.5 points to lead the Atlantic 10. In his three seasons at UMass, he was a two-time NABC All-District selection, an Atlantic 10 First-Team pick twice and the league's Freshman of the Year in 1994.
• He left UMass as the school's all-time leader in blocked shots in a career (336) and single-season (128). Camby scored 1,387 points in his career to rank in the top 10 after his final season for the Maroon & White.
• This will be the fifth men's basketball jersey retired at UMass and ninth in school history. Previous hoops numbers to be hung at the South end of the Mullins Center include George "Trigger" Burke (#32), Julius Erving (#32), Lou Roe (#15) and Al Skinner (#30). Additionally, Dick Bergquist in baseball (#26), Danielle Henderson in softball (#44), Greg Minton in water polo (#6) and Eric Sopracasa (#43) in men's lacrosse have had their jerseys retired in their respective sports.
UMASS SELECTED FIFTH IN A-10 PRESEASON POLL
• UMass was selected fifth in the preseason Atlantic 10 Poll in a vote by media and coaches. Saint Joseph's was picked to win the league followed by Saint Louis, VCU, Temple and UMass. The Hawks had 11 first place votes, while the Billikens had 10 votes. Temple, UMass and Butler all had two first place votes in the poll.
• Junior Chaz Williams was named to the preseason First Team. Williams had a banner campaign in 2011-12 in leading UMass to the NIT Semifinals. The Brooklyn native was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team, the A-10 All-Championship Team and the NABC All-District 4 First Team.
• Among national publications, Athlon picked the Minutemen to finish fourth and make a return trip to the NIT. They also tabbed Chaz Williams as the Preseason Player of the Year and one of the top 10 Floor Leaders in the nation. Lindy's had UMass seventh but listed it as a team folks may want as an A-10 sleeper team. Williams was bestowed the honor of being the Most Entertaining player in the league.
UMASS AMONG TOP 3-POINT SHOOTING TEAMS IN 2011-12
• UMass averaged 8.1 3-point field goals per game a year ago, which ranked first in the Atlantic 10 and 31st nationally. The Minutemen made 288 triples to rank second all-time in school history.
UMass was one of just four schools in Division I with four players who made at least 50 treys. The others were Florida, Iowa State and Youngstown State.
UMASS A POPULAR TV CHOICE IN 2012-13
• UMass is scheduled to appear on television 11 times this season with nine current match-ups slated for national broadcasts. That marks the most regular-season showings since the 1997-98 year.
UMASS POSTSEASON HISTORY
• UMass has an all-time postseason record of 24-21 in 18 combined appearances in both the NCAA and NIT tournaments. The Minutemen have made eight NCAA Tourney showings, with the last in 1998. The first came in 1962 before a string of seven-consecutive from 1992-98 in which it ran its all-time record to 11-8 with an Elite Eight showing in 1995 and the only Final Four appearance in A-10 history in 1996. Last season the Minutemen collected their 11th NIT appearance and ran their record to 13-13, which included Final Fours in 1991 (fourth), 2008 (runner-up) and 2012 (tied-third).
ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE
• The A-10 ranked seventh among all conferences in the final RPI in 2011-12. The league boasted eight Top 100 teams, third among all leagues behind only the Big East and Big 10. The eight teams matched the SEC and was more than the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Mountain West.
A-10 IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
• For the fifth year in a row, the Atlantic 10 Conference earned at least three bids into the NCAA Tournament while it marked the 27th time in the league's 35-year history that the conference received multiple bids to participate in the national tournament. The A-10 also received multiple at-large bids for the fifth year in a row and 18th time overall. Over the last six years, the league has had 12 at-large selections - the seventh most among Division I conferences - behind only the Big East (42), Big Ten (29), ACC (26), Big 12 (26), SEC (23) and the Pac-10 (22). In fact, the A-10 is one of eight conferences to receive at least one at-large selection over each of the last six seasons.