UMass Faces St. Joe's At Hallowed Palestra On Dr. J's Birthday
UMASS (9-15, 4-7) at SAINT JOSEPH'S (14-11, 7-4)
UMass Faces St. Joe's At Hallowed Palestra On Sunday
Two UMass players have a great chance to reach personal milestones on Sunday. Senior point guard Chris Lowe comes into the game with 633 career assists to stand tied with Carl Smith for the all-time UMass record. The pair are tied for seventh in career assists in Atlantic 10 history. Lowe ranks 14th in the NCAA in assists per game at 6.2, second in the A-10 to Charlotte's DiJuan Harris (6.8). He has led the league in two of the last three years and is seeking to become the first three-time league leader in history.
Senior forward Tony Gaffney is just two steals from becoming the first player in the NCAA to have 100 blocks (which he reached against Rhode Island on Wednesday) and 50 steals (enters Saint Joseph's game with 48) since Duke's Shelden Williams achieved it in 2005-06. Since 1996-97, only four players have reached that combination in a single season. Gaffney is third in the NCAA in blocks per game (4.2), which leads the A-10. He is also 14th in rebounding (10.4) and 53rd in steals per game (2.0). Both of those marks are second in the Atlantic 10.
Sunday's game will be available through UMass All-Access on UMassAthletics.com as well as the UMass Sports Network with Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney on the call. Listen on 100.9 FM WRNX, the flagship station along with 830 AM WCRN and 95.9 FM WATD in Eastern Mass.
Happy Birthday Dr. J
This Season's First UMass-Saint Joseph's Game
Ahmad Nivins led Saint Joseph's with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Tasheed Carr added 14 and Darr1n Govens had 10 for the Hawks (14-8, 7-1). It was Saint Joseph's ninth win in 10 games.
After a hot offensive start, the Minutemen cooled down with only 27 second-half points. UMass was 24-for-63 (38 percent) from the field, 9-for-27 (27 percent) from behind the arc, while Saint Joseph's was 25-for-55 (46 percent) and 5-for-14 (36 percent). Rebounds were 40 to 36 in favor of the Hawks.
Saint Joseph's went on an 9-0 run starting with 4:07 left in the second half that was keyed by back-to-back jumpers from Nivins and Garrett Williamson with less than 2:30 left in the second for a 60-56 Hawks lead. Then Carr added a pair of free throws for a 62-56 edge and Williamson made a foul shot for a 63-56 lead they would never relinquish.
The Series With Saint Joseph's
Saint Joe's has won the last three games including the 68-64 win two weeks ago. The Hawks also won twice last season. The Hawks pulled off a 98-92 win at the Mullins Center on Jan. 9, 2008 while UMass made an amazing comeback but lost at Hawk Hill, 81-77 on Jan. 23.
The Minutemen won the previous two games to end the Hawks eight-game win streak in the season. Three seasons ago UMass posted a 68-58 win on Jan. 11, 2006, at the Mullins Center. Two years ago, UMass captured the Atlantic 10 conference regular-season co-championship with a 71-67 win at Hawk Hill on March 3, 2007.
Saint Joseph's has won 12 of the last 15, but prior to that UMass ran off six consecutive victories in the series.
Saint Joseph's holds a 15-9 advantage against the Minutemen for regular-season games played in Philadelphia. At The Palestra vs. SJU, UMass is 2-4 overall with two wins in the A-10 Tournament. UMass is 0-3 in regular-season games against the Hawks at The Palestra, losing in 1983, 84 and 88. Saint Joe's holds a 12-9 mark against UMass in Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.
The Minutemen hold a 14-7 advantage against Saint Joseph's for games played in Amherst, including a 8-7 mark against the Hawks at the Mullins Center.
This will be UMass head coach Derek Kellogg's second game against the Hawks, he did play against Saint Joseph's when Phil Martelli was an assistant at SJU. Martelli took over as head coach in 1995-96, the year UMass made the Final Four. Martelli stands 14-11 all-time against the Minutemen in his career.
Last Season's Meeting In Philadelphia
UMass Playing 50th-Toughest Schedule
The A-10 has three teams playing schedules in the top 50 in difficulty: Xavier plays the 24th-toughest, Temple faces the 44th-toughest and UMass is playing the 50th-toughest.
Gaffney Among The NCAA Leaders
With 100 blocks and 48 steals, Gaffney is closing in on becoming the fifth player since 1996-97 to have 100 blocks and 50 steals in a season. The last to achieve the mark was Duke's Shelden Williams in 2005-06 with 137 blocks and 60 steals.
Gaffney is tied for 53rd in steals per game with 2.0 per game, which is second in the Atlantic 10 to Duquesne's Damian Saunders (2.2).
He is having a breakout senior season averaging a double-double with nine double-doubles this season after none in his career in 81 games entering the season. He also had grabbed at least seven rebounds in 19 of 24 games and at least 10 in 15 of the 24 games. He has double-doubles in two of his last three games with a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds at St. Bonaventure (2/14). He also had 19 points and 10 rebounds at Fordham (2/11) last Wednesday.
Gaffney has three games with 15 or more rebounds, most recently at Houston (12/30) with 16. He also had 19 at Memphis (11/17) and 18 vs. Boston College (12/6).
Gaffney has five or more blocks in nine games this year including seven against Dayton (1/10). After that game, UD coach Brian Gregory called Gaffney "the best non-scoring player in the nation" for his all-around game. His career-high of nine came vs. Boston College (12/6).
Gaffney nearly had triple-doubles in back-to-back games on Dec. 6 and 10. In those contests he has a combined 32 points, 29 rebounds and 17 blocks. Against Holy Cross, (12/10), he had 17 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. That followed a titanic effort vs. Boston College (12/6) with 15 points, 18 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots.
Gaffney's 100 blocked shots already rank as the sixth-best single-season in UMass history. At No. 5 is Marcus Camby with 103 in his sophomore season of 1994-95. Gaffney's 159 career blocks is seventh in a career at UMass. Kitwana Rhymer (184) is sixth all-time.
Many of Gaffney's best performances of 2008-09 have come against national powers. At #25/23 Kansas (12/13), he posted 13 rebounds and six blocks. Against Boston College when he had 15 points, 18 rebounds, and a career-high nine blocked shots, his put-back of a missed Chris Lowe free throw sent the game to overtime, giving UMass a chance for its second-straight win over BC. Another outstanding game came at Memphis (11/17), one which Memphis John Calipari called him the best player on the court. Against the No. 13 Tigers, Gaffney scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds along with five blocks. He opened with 16 points and 13 rebounds vs. Arkansas-Monticello (11/11).
Lowe Ties Assists Mark, Nets 1000th
Lowe is 14th in the NCAA in the NCAA with 6.2 assists per game, which also is second in the Atlantic 10 lead to Charlotte's DiJuan Harris (6.8). He has led the league in assists in two of the last three years and would become the first player to lead the A-10 in assists for three years in a career.
Lowe became the 41st player in UMass history to pass the 1,000-point plateau. Ricky Harris became the 40th earlier this year. Lowe has become the first UMass player with 1,000 points and 600 assists and just the seventh in Atlantic 10 history.
Lowe stands tied with Smith for seventh in career assists in the Atlantic 10 with his 633. Next on the list is George Washington's Shawnta Rogers (634) follwoed by St. Bonaventure's Marques Green (657).
Lowe is up to 33rd in career scoring at UMass with 1,058. Next on the list are No. 31 Jack Foley (1,081) and No. 32 Shannon Crooks (1,074).
Lowe has seven 10-assist games this season and 13 in his career, all in the last two seasons (all in the last 37 games). He racked up 10 assists vs. Richmond (2/4)for his last double-figure game. Lowe had 10 or more assists in four of five games in December with 10 each vs. Hofstra (12/20) and IUPUI (12/27). Lowe had 12 vs. Holy Cross (12/10) and 11 against Boston College (12/6). He also did it vs. Temple (1/17).
The Mount Vernon, N.Y. product became the fourth player with 500 career assists at UMass after he gained five against Jacksonville State (11/24). He passed his coach Derek Kellogg (453) most recently at the end of last year.
With a career-high 14 against La Salle (3/5/08) - part of the sixth triple-double in UMass history (14 pts, 10 reb), Lowe moved past UMass Hall of Famer Joe DiSarcina (431) into fifth. Last season, he also passed two illustrious coaches who played at UMass: BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and Louisville coach Rick Pitino (329).
With his 214 assists last season, Lowe had the third-best single-season in UMass history after passing Smith (212), Smith (191), Alex Eldridge (174) and Rick Pitino (168).
Harris Shoots Up 1,000-Point List
Next on the list for Harris to pass are No. 16 Doug Grutchfield (1,257), No. 15 Billy Tindall (1,277) and No. 14 Clarence Hill (1,369).
Harris has picked up where he left off last season, when he was named the A-10 Chris Daniels Most Improved player. Harris is leading UMass with a 18.8 scoring average and led the team in scoring in 16 of the first 24 games with 20 or more in eight games. Harris is 43rd in the NCAA in scoring per game and third in the Atlantic 10. He dropped a season and career-high 35 points on BC (12/6). The 35 points were good for the 13th most in school history and only six behind the school record of 41 held by Billy Tindall on Feb. 10, 1968 vs. Vermont. It was also Harris' second ever 30+ point scoring effort. Two games prior, he netted 27 at Green Bay (11/29) and had 24 points at Southern Illinois (11/12).
Harris Rises on 3-Point Charts
Harris, who tied Carmelo Travieso for the single-season mark for made treys last year with 104, is rising on the career charts. Harris stands fifth in career made 3-pointers with 191 and fifth in career attempts with 520. With four treys at Green Bay, he passed Edgar Padilla (136) and his coach Derek Kellogg (138). Next on the list at No. 4 is Rafer Giles (221).
On the attempts list, Harris is fifth, passing Sutton(424), James Life (425) and Edgar Padilla (431) after passing Kellogg (362) earlier this season. Next on the attempts chart is Rafer Giles (592).
Harris had his streak of 26 games in a row with at least one 3-pointer ended in the loss to Vanderbilt (1/3).
Big Nights For Bonner
Bonner posted his first-career double-double at Charlotte (1/21) with a career-high tying 15 points and a career-best 11 rebounds. That performance came in a career-high 39 minutes, shattering his former length of 26 minutes by 13. Bonner also set or tied career highs for field goals attempted (11), made 3-pointers (3), 3-pointers attempted (8) and assists (3).
Bonner, who was injured on Nov. 12 at Southern Illinois, returned to action on Dec. 20 against Hofstra with a career breakout game. He posted then-career bests 15 points and nine rebounds. That came in just 18 minutes off the bench.
In 17 games (14 starts), he is scoring 7.6 points per game along with 5.6 rebounds. He has made 29-of-67 3-point field goals for a team-best 43.3.
Over his last 10 games -- which he has made a 3-pointer in each game -- Bonner is shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc with 20-of-41.
He also had a huge game in an all-around sense with 14 points including three 3-pointers and four drawn charges at #10/10 Xavier (1/31).
Bonner made a career-high four 3-pointers, hitting all four of his attempts, at Fordham (2/11).
On the defensive end, Bonner has been just amazing at drawing charges. He has taken 23 offensive fouls in just 16 games, more than one a game including a career high four on twice at #10/10 Xavier and vs. Hofstra (12/20). Bonner has 23 of UMass' 32 drawn charges as a team this season.
Off To See The United States
UMass Against Ranked Teams
UMass has won four of its last 12 games against ranked teams dating to 2004. UMass lost at Memphis, 80-58 on Nov. 17, 2008. Last season the Minutemen were 1-2 against ranked teams with the win at Dayton, 82-71 on Jan. 16, 2008.
Last season, UMass broke a five-game losing streak against ranked teams with its 82-71 win at #14/18 Dayton on Jan. 16. The Minutemen's previous win over a ranked team came at #21 George Washington (76-74 in OT on Jan. 15, 2005). That was the second win a row over a ranked team that season as UMass also beat #7 UConn (61-59 on Dec. 9, 2004). In both those wins, three-time first-team All-Atlantic 10 honoree Rashaun Freeman hit the game-winning shot, beating UConn with 4.3 seconds left and topping the Colonials with a lay-up with 0.4 left in overtime.
UMass 5-1 Vs Defending NCAA Champs
UMass head coach Derek Kellogg has been a part of three of the wins over the champ as a player in 1993 and 1994 and the head coach in 2008 vs. Kansas.
On Dec. 9, 2004 as the Minutemen downed No. 7 UConn at the Mullins Center, 61-59 as Rashaun Freeman scored with seconds left to lift UMass to the historic win. The game marked the first time a defending champion visited the Mullins Center.
UMass knocked off North Carolina, 91-86, in overtime on Nov. 24, 1993 in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden.
One year later, UMass thumped Arkansas, 104-80, on Nov. 25, 1994 in the Tip-Off Classic at the Springfield Civic Center.
That win over No. 1 Arkansas is symbolic, as it vaulted UMass to the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll for the first time in school history. Last week was the 14-year anniversary of the school's first No. 1 ranking, as the Minutemen played their first game as the No. 1 team on Dec. 3, 1994.
UMass' only loss against a champ came on Nov. 22, 1999, as the Minutemen lost to UConn at Gampel Pavilion, 79-65, on Nov. 22, 1999.
Notes On UMass' Win Over Kansas
UMass won a non-conference game against a ranked team, away from Massachusetts for the first time since it beat Georgetown in the 1996 NCAA Elite Eight on March 23, 1996.
For head coach Derek Kellogg the win was sweet as his Minutemen picked up their first win over a ranked team under his watch in just his ninth game as a head coach. The previous fastest UMass coach to beat a ranked team was Bruiser Flint, who beat then-No. 19 Boston College in his 17th game as the head man on Jan. 18, 1997. Kellogg also gained a win against Kansas, the team which downed Memphis in the 2008 NCAA title game when Kellogg was an assistant for former UMass coach John Calipari.
UMass beat a non-conference ranked team on the road for the first time since win at #21 Louisville on March 2, 1996, 62-59.
UMass beat a non-conference ranked team for the first time since topping UConn, 61-59, on Dec. 9, 2004. Since that game, UMass is 4-7 against ranked teams (1-1 this season, losing at Memphis).
UMass last beat a ranked team at #14 Dayton on the road last season, 82-71 on Jan. 16, 2008.
The Minutemen have won the last two games against Kansas, winning at the Mullins Center in 1999. All-time Kansas leads the series, 3-2. All five games have been played in different states (New York, California, Kansas, Massachusetts and Missouri).
100th Season Of UMass Basketball
The following players were on hand for the BC game: Don Akerson, Frank Barous, George "Trigger" Burke, John Edgar, Dick Eid, Wray Gunn, Paul Kollios, Ned Larkin, John MacLeod, Condon McDonough, Ed McGrath, George Morin, Alex Norskey, Bill Prevey, Bill Stephens and William Walsh.
The 1960s Celebration was held at the Vanderbilt game on Jan. 3. Here are the players who attended: Jim Babyak, Peter Bernard, Dennis Chapman, Chuck Demers (trainer), Joe DiSarcina, John Dreyer, Robert Eichorn, Ray Ellerbrook, Gary Gasperack, Jim Girotti, Paul Gullicksen, John Lisack, Bob Murphy, Richard Perkins, Ed Rubin (manager), Dick Samuelson, Rich Starsiak, Frank Stewart and Billy Tindall.
The 1970s Celebration at the Temple game honored: Jim Burke, Bob Dempsey, David Dibble, Mark Donoghue, Billy Endicott, Michael Littman (manager), Tom McLaughlin, John Moynihan, Charles Olsen, Bob Powers (manager) Sam Provo, Mike Pyatt, Peter Trow, Rick Vogeley and Ray Witkos. The family of the late John Murphy was also recognized.
At the La Salle game on Jan. 24, the 1980s Celebration was held and the following players attended: Matt Anderson, Bob Braun, Tony DePina, Kurt Funk, Bill Hampton, Cary Herer, Dennis Jackson (assistant coach), Sean Nelen, Horace Neysmith, Hal Shaw, Jack Sheehan, Fitzhugh Tarry, Keith Whitt and Ron Young.
The 1990s night was the biggest of the celebrations with the following players in attendance: Craig Berry, Ronell Blizzard, Ross Burns, Charlton Clarke, Ted Cottrell, Darryl Denson, Dana Dingle, Francois Firmin, Jason Germain, Will Herndon, Derek Kellogg, Lari Ketner, Chris Kirkland, Andy Maclay, Rigo Nunez, Tommy Pace, Edgar and Giddel Padilla (flew in from Puerto Rico), Kennard Robinson, John Tate, Tyrone Weeks and Mike Williams.
In looking back at UMass basketball, the program started with its first season in 1899-1900 with the first game played on Jan. 10, 1900, a 14-9 win over the Northampton YMCA.
The program had several hiatuses in its history as, this is the 100th season with the program starting 109 years ago. UMass did not field a team in 1900-01, 1909-10 to 1915-16 and during World War II in both 1943-44 and 1944-45.
Under the leadership of John Calipari, the Minutemen become A-10 Tournament Champs five consecutive times (1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96). Overall, UMass has appeared in the NCAA Tournament eight times, in addition to those five A-10 title years (1961-62, 1996-97 and 1997-98). They have two appearances in the Elite Eight (1995, 1996) and a Final Four appearance (1996). Last year UMass, went 25-11 in reaching the NIT Championship game. It was UMass' 10th NIT appearance including each of the last two season.
UMass Alum Leading UMass
Prior to McLaughlin, the last UMass alum to lead his alma mater was Lorin Ball (Class of 1921), who coached the team from 1945-52.
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