GW leads the overall series 36-28, with UMass holding a 15-13 edge in games payed in Amherst and 5-3 in neutral sites, while the Colonials have controled the series in Foggy Bottom, 20-8. The Minutemen have won 12 of the last 18.
The teams split the two games a year ago. GW spoiled the retirement of Marcus Camby's jersey in Amherst with a 79-76 win, while UMass claimed a 77-72 victory in the Atlantic 10 Championship first round.
UMass has won two of the three overtime games in the series, including the most recent extra-session contest - a 76-74 win in GW's Smith Center in 2005.
Nine of the last 13 meetings have been decided by 10 points or less.
Derek Kellogg is 3-3 against GW as a coach after going 4-4 as a player from 1991-95.
UMASS ON THE VERGE OF THIRD-CONSECUTIVE 20-WIN SEASON
With a win on Saturday, the 2013-14 team would earn its 20th victory, becoming the 17th 20-win team in school history. All 17 have come in the past 43 seasons dating back to Jack Leaman's 1970-71 team that went 23-4 and participated in its second-straight NIT.
This would be the third-consecutive 20-win season for the Minutemen, marking the first time that has happened in Amherst since the end of John Calipari's eight-year run in Western Mass. which concluded with six 20-plus win campaigns and the 1996 NCAA Final Four.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
UMass is playing its seventh road game in its last 10 overall. The Minutemen are 5-3 in true road games this season. They are 2-3 in league road contests after last Sunday's win at Rhode Island.
The Minutemen are 12-17 in Atlantic 10 road games over the past three seasons and gone 4-4 each of the last two.
KELLOGG PICKS UP WIN NO. 100 IN AMAZING FASHION
Sixth-year head coach Derek Kellogg's earned his 100th career victory - all at UMass - with a thrilling 88-87 come-from-behind victory at George Mason on Jan. 15. UMass trailed by eight midway through the second half and by five (86-81) with 41.3 seconds left. But a pair of lightning-quick layups by Chaz Williams, three forced turnovers and a Derrick Gordon putback with 8.1 left helped the Minutemen remain unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play.
What made the game special for Kellogg was that his first full-time job after college came in the late 1990s when he spent two seasons at George Mason working for Jim Larranaga from 1997-99. That stint included the 1999 CAA regular-season and tournament titles en route to a NCAA Tournament First Round appearance.
With 104 victories entering the George Washington game, Kellogg is in third place on the school's career victories list. Jack Leaman won 217 over 13 seasons and John Calipari is second with 193 over eight years in Amherst.
UMASS SHARING THE BALL AS WELL AS AT ANY POINT IN KELLOGG'S SIX SEASONS
Paced by one of the best point guards in the country in Chaz Williams, UMass ranks 21st nationally in assists per game at 16.1. Individually, Williams ranks third at 7.4 apg.
Further evidence of the team's ability to distribute across the court is that it has assisted on 57.4 pct. of its field goals this season. That is the highest since the 2005-06 squad assisted on 57.8 pct. of made baskets.
19-5 MARK AFTER 24 GAMES EQUALS THE FOURTH-BEST RECORD IN SCHOOL HISTORY
With a 19-5 record entering the George Washington game, the 2013-14 UMass team has matched the 1993-94 squad for the sixth-best record after 24 games in school history. The record is held by the 1995-96 Final Four team which won its first 26 games. That team was one of 27 in NCAA history to start a season with at least 20 victories.
UMASS & THE POLLS
After losing three of its last four games, UMass fell out of the national rankings in both polls last week. The Minutemen did receive 24 votes in this week's coaches poll, placing them fifth among the others receiving votes.
When the Minutemen debuted in the rankings this season, it ended a drought that dated back to Nov. 1998 in each poll. Last month's initial No. 19 ranking marked the first foray in the Top 20 in both polls since Feb. 24, 1998.
UMass has now appeared in the AP Poll 87 times and is 126-33 all-time as a ranked team. The Minutemen have been ranked in the top 10 48 times, the top five 31 times and No. 1 15 times (32-4).
In four of UMass' six Atlantic 10 victories, it trailed in the final four minutes of the game before coming back to win (1/8 vs. Saint Joseph's, 1/11 vs. St. Bona, 1/15 at George Mason, 2/9 at URI). The Minutemen were behind in the final 95 seconds in three of those (Saint Joseph's, St. Bona and GMU). You can read more about those comebacks in the next note. vvvvvvvvvvv
REFUSE TO LOSE
With the style of play and mentality that Derek Kellogg has implemented at UMass, just about any deficit can be overcome. The Minutemen have pulled off some late-game heroics in three of their four A-10 wins.
UMass trailed at George Mason by eight in the second half and 86-81 with 41.3 seconds left. But a pair of lightning-quick layups by Chaz Williams, three forced turnovers and a Derrick Gordon putback with 8.1 left helped the Minutemen remain unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play.
Against St. Bonaventure the game prior, they erased a 13-point deficit with nine minutes remaining and outscored the Bonnies 21-8 to close the game. That marked the first time this season and the seventh time in the last three seasons a UMass club has overcome a double-digit hole to win a game.
Three days earlier against Saint Joseph's, UMass trailed by nine seven minutes into the game and again with six minutes to play. More full court pressure and timely shooting saw the Minutemen close the game on an 18-5 run.
DEFENDING THE THREE
UMass has done a solid job with its three-point field goal defense this season, holding opponents to 29.6% from outside and 4.8 makes per game. That percentage ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 and 24th nationally.
Since Boston College made 40 pct. in the season-opener, only three times has a team made better than 38 pct. in a game. Teams have been held to five or fewer makes 15 times, with opponents averaging 4.5 over the last 14 games.
DEFENDING THE RIM
With an arsenal of long, athletic players who can defend the rim, UMass has been among the nation's blocked shot leaders all season long, entering the George Washington game with 5.8 blocks per game, good for 22nd in the NCAA and first in the Atlantic 10, just ahead of the Colonials' 4.8 bpg.
They have been particularly unkind over the past five games, altering 40 shots for an 8.0 bpg average. UMass has blocked a season-high 10 shots in its last two contests after 9-block efforts in two of the previous three.
TOP PLAYS U
Over the course of the last three seasons, UMass basketball student-athletes have had 15 performances earn a spot on ESPN SportsCenter's Top Plays of the Day or Weekend.
The latest came on Jan. 26 when Trey Davis threw a bounce pass between a Fordham player's legs to Derrick Gordon who tossed an alley-oop to Maxie Esho for the throw down. That earned No. 6 on the list.
A week earlier, Chaz Williams (5'9") blocked St. Bonaventure's Youssou Ndoye's (7'0") layup attempt for the No. 9 play on Saturday, Jan. 11.
Esho also earned the No. 8 play on Jan. 8 with his backcourt steal of Saint Joseph's DeAndre Bembry and dunk that put UMass ahead 63-62 with 1:00 left en route to a 66-62 come-from-behind win.
Other top plays included a Derrick Gordon offensive putback with 1.1 seconds left in overtime to lift UMass to a 69-67 win over Providence, earning him No. 8 on Dec. 28, a Williams-to-Raphiael Putney alley-oop against Northern Illinois for No. 8 on Dec. 14, a Putney coast-to-coast drive and dunk where he took off from just inside the "A-10" logo in the lane against Youngstown State for No. 3 on Nov. 17.
So what does all of this mean, you ask? Maybe not a lot in terms of basketball statistics, but UMass' brand has been enhanced with visibility through social media whether it be Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vine and even UMassAthletics.com. Derek Kellogg has mentioned that the UMass basketball brand is well known and recognized nationally, further evidenced by the current roster which features players from Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington state.
CHAZ IS LIKE A FINE WINE, HE GETS BETTER WITH AGE
Chaz Williams continues to impress with his on-court talents year-in and year-out. While his scoring has been consistently strong throughout his college career, his shooting percentages are at or near all-time highs and his assist-to-turnover numbers are at an all-time high.
Year MPG PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG TPG A/TO Ratio
2009-10 31.7 9.8 .372 .389 .733 4.2 2.5 1.64
2011-12 34.9 16.9 .410 .419 .788 6.2 3.4 1.83
2012-13 35.3 15.5 .433 .333 .785 7.3 3.4 2.12
2013-14 34.8 15.7 .412 .390 .743 7.4 3.2 2.30
He has 17 double-figure assist games in his career and 15 at UMass, tying Carl Smith's record set from 1983-87.
WILLIAMS EARNS THIRD A-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Chaz Williams earned his third Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honor in late January after he averaged 23 points, 6 assists, 3.5 steals and 1.5 rebounds in road victories against George Mason and Elon.
The Brooklyn native left his mark in both wins that week, scoring a game-high 26 points with eight assists, and a career-high tying five steals in the thrilling come-from-behind win at George Mason. He scored 15 in the second half and was the catalyst during their final 41 seconds comeback. He scored five of the final seven points and his steal with 10 seconds left led to the game winning basket. Against Elon on Saturday, he had 20 points, all in the second half and was instrumental in numerous plays that kept the UMass lead between 7-12 points the entire second half. Williams, who won his third Player of the Week award this season, passed Carmelo Travieso for third all-time in school history with 598 assists in just 87 games.
CHAZ AMONG ELITE COMPANY
Chaz Williams has had a very impressive career dating back to this freshman season at Hofstra in 2009-10, and has maintained his high level of play through his career at UMass. He is currently one of only six active Division I players to have 1,500 points, 500 assists and 100 steals. Here is the list of current active players who fit this category as well...
Chaz Williams (UMass) 1,838 points 788 assists 234 steals
Anthony Ireland (Loyola Marymount) 2,039 points 520 assists 190 steals
Kendall Williams (New Mexico) 1,652 points 561 assists 174 steals
Shabazz Napier (UConn) 1,647 points 580 assists 220 steals
Patrick Miller (Tennessee State) 1,791 points 503 assists 195 steals
Joe Jackson (Memphis) 1,541 points 517 assists 182 steals
*Brandon Young (DePaul) 1,712 points 499 assists 180 steals
WILLIAMS NAMED TO NAISMITH TOP 30 LIST
On Thursday, senior PG Chaz Williams was named to the Men's Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T Top 30 List. Williams is one of 19 guards and 18 seniors listed, and the only player from an Atlantic 10 Conference school.
Last month he was named to the Wendy's Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list and the Oscar Robertson Midseason Watch List. He is the only player from an Atlantic 10 school on each of those lists and one of 12 guards on the Wooden list and 13 floor generals among the 23 total from the Robertson list.
In November he was named to the Bob Cousy Award Watch List (top point guard in men's college basketball) and the initial vote for the Naismith Award.
LALANNE HAVING BREAKOUT SEASON
Junior C Cady Lalanne (caddie luh-lane) is having his best season since arriving at UMass, posing season marks of 13.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. While his A-10 numbers aren't as imposing - 10.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg - he still has the potential to dominate any game inside.
Lalanne was able to spend a full off season working with strength & conditioning coach Rich Hogans and added more muscle to his frame, which led to his strong season. That strong play has continued throughout the season with his ability to post a double-double any time out, something he has done nine times this season - which ranks second in the A-10 and 30th nationally.
ESHO MAKING PUSH FOR SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR...
Redshirt junior Maxie Esho, who has been described as the X-factor by head coach Derek Kellogg at times, is producing at a high level with 8.3 ppg and 4.9 rpg, ahead of his previous season benchmarks of 5.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg set last year. In eight A-10 games he has averaged 6.4 points, 3.3 rebounds with 10 total blocks and five steals.
Prior to being injured at Saint Joseph's, in the previous 13 games, he was UMass' third leading scorer and rebounder at 10.2 ppg and 5.3 rpg. His field goal percentage was tops on the team during that span at .621 (54-for-87) and he had eight double-figure games in those 12.
DAVIS NOT A BAD CHOICE EITHER
Sophomore Trey Davis has also made a solid improvement from his rookie season and has asserted himself as one of the top guards off the bench in the conference. He is averaging 8.2 points and 2.5 assists in 21.9 minutes per game. He is second on the team with 32 3-pointers this season. In A-10 play, he is averaging 9.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists over nine games.
A very good shooter from 3-point range, he struggled at times to get going but has returned to form in the last few weeks. Over the last five games, he is shooting 12-for-22 (.545) from outside and is second on the team in scoring with 12.8 ppg. He also has 19 assists and just two turnovers during that time. Additionally, he has made at least one 3-pointer in 15-consecutive games and 17 of the last 18.