• Coming off an impressive 80-73 win over Xavier on Tuesday, UMass travels to Dayton for a nationally-televised contest looking to pick up its 20th win for the 15th time in school history and the first in head coach Derek Kellogg’s four years.
• Dayton has won three of its last four and is coming off a 74-62 win at Duquesne. The Flyers are 11-4 at home this season, including a 4-2 mark in Atlantic 10 play.
• UMass is in the midst of a five-game stretch where it closes the regular-season against La Salle, Xavier, at Dayton, at Temple and at home with Rhode Island.
• TV Info: The game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network (DIRECTV Ch. 613; DISH Ch. 152; Comcast in Springfield/Amherst Ch. 261 & 856-HD).
• Radio Info: The game can be heard on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM KIX in Western Mass., 830 AM WCRN in Central Mass. and 95.9 FM WATD on in Eastern Mass. on Boston’s South Shore. “Voice of the Minutemen” Josh Maurer & Tim Kenney will call the action. Live audio and Gametracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES HISTORY WITH DAYTON
• This will be the 19th meeting between UMass and Dayton, with the series tied at 9-9. UMass has won five of the last seven games against the Flyers after the teams split a pair of games in Amherst a year ago.
• Last year, UMass claimed a 55-50 victory on Jan. 9, in the A-10 opener for both schools, before Dayton defeated the Minutemen 78-50 in the first round of the A-10 Tournament on Mar. 8.
• Derek Kellogg is 2-2 against Dayton including his first win as a head coach back in his hometown of Springfield back in 2009, a 75-62 victory against the Flyers, who entered the game 14-1.
• Four seasons ago, UMass ended Dayton’s 13-game win streak as the No. 14/18 Flyers fell at home, 82-71 on Jan. 16, 2008. Five seasons ago, UMass ended the Flyers’ 14-game home win streak at UD Arena with a 77-69 victory on Feb. 22, 2007.
• Prior to last season’s regular-season tilt, the last game at the Mullins Center between the teams came four seasons ago, as UMass ended a five-game losing streak in the series with a 66-47 victory on Feb. 25, 2006. That day was an emotional one as the court at the facility was named in honor of Jack Leaman. Prior to that win, Dayton had won five straight in the series. The previous victory for the Minutemen came at the Mullins Center on Jan. 18, 2001 (62-57).
• For all games played in Dayton, UD leads 5-3, however the Minutemen have won two of the last three at UD Arena.
• Team Notes: UMass outscored Xavier 18-4 over a six-minute stretch in the first half and turn a five-point deficit into a 34-25 lead with 2:30 left ... UMass shot 89 percent (16-of-18) from the free throw line, marking its second-best performance of the season ... The Minutemen snapped a two-game losing skid and a six-game streak to Xavier.
• Individual Notes: Chaz Williams used a career-high 6-of-8 night from outside to lead all scorers with a career-best 29 points, while adding nine assists and five rebounds ... He narrowly missed a third-consecutive double-double by one assist ... Guards Jesse Morgan and Freddie Riley combined to limit Xavier’s Tu Holloway to just 10 points (17.6 ppg) on 2-of-11 shooting in 40 minutes, marking his third-lowest total this season.
WILLIAMS IS GOOD AS ADVERTISED
• Redshirt sophomore point guard Chaz Williams has been given the responsibility of quarterbacking the Minutemen’s new up-tempo offense and the transfer from Hofstra lived up to the billing, averaging 16.0 points and a league-leading 6.3 assists this season. He is shooting 39 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 28th nationally in steals with 2.1 per game and 11th nationally in assists per game.
• Through 13 games in league play, he is posting averages of 17.2 points (4th in A-10), 6.8 assists (1st) and 83.1 FT Pct (8th).
• Prior to a first-half miss against Saint Louis (1/28), 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.
• Williams has recorded seven 20-point games this season, with career-highs of 29 on 6-of-8 from outside against Xavier on Tuesday. He also has five games with at least nine assists, including three straight.
• Williams recorded the first double-double of his career in the win over Northeastern (11/14), with 20 points and 10 assists. He has posted identical 11-point, 10-assist performances in the last two outings at Saint Joseph’s (2/11/12) and vs. La Salle (2/18/12). He joined Kevin Dillard (Dayton) and Tu Holloway (Xavier) as the only players in the A-10 to post multiple double-figure assist games this season.
WILLIAMS ON PACE TO BE FIRST TRUE POINT GUARD TO LEAD UMASS IN SCORING SINCE 1985
• A check of the UMass record book shows that Chaz Williams is on the verge of doing something that hasn’t been done in nearly 30 years. As the team’s leading scorer throughout the season, Williams looks to be the first true point guard to lead the Minutemen in scoring since 1984-85 when Donald Russell averaged 15.2 ppg. When adding Williams’ team-leading categories of assists, steals and minutes into the fold, the timetable extends three more years to 1981-82 when Russell lead UM with 16.4 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.4 spg and 36.7 mpg.
• Some may recall that recent scoring leaders Ricky Harris (2009-10) and Shannon Crooks (2001-02) played the point, however historians will point out that they were shooting guards who happened to play the point guard position out of necessity in those seasons.
CARTER DEMANDING RESPECT INSIDE
• While he may not be the stat sheet stuffer that some of his teammates have become, senior Sean Carter’s play has remained consistent throughout the season. He ranks second in the Atlantic 10 in field goal pct. (.632) and 13th in rebounding (6.2), while leading the team in board work 10 times, including five A-10 contests. His numbers in league play are even more impressive. In 13 games, he is second in FG pct. (.720) and 16th in rebounds (6.4).
MORGAN, CARTER LIKE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF THE ATLANTIC 10 ROAD ARENAS
• While most players perform better statistically at home due to the familiarity of the facility, UMass’ Jesse Morgan and Sean Carter have proven that to be an anomoly. In the six previous A-10 road contests, Morgan leads the team in scoring (15.5 ppg) and 3-point shooting (12-30, .400 pct.), while Carter ranks first in FG pct. (32-40, .800), second in rebounds (6.8) and third in scoring (12.3).
DUNK YOU VERY MUCH
• Its no secret that dunks can play a big role in exciting the crowd and shifting a game’s momentum, and UMass has a pair of players who can bring the house down on any given night. Senior Sean Carter and sophomore Raphiael Putney have combined for 66 of the team’s 104 slams this season.
• Carter leads the team with 42 thus far, including a season-best five at Rhode Island. In fact, of his 84 made buckets this season, 50 pct. have come from above the rim. In his three seasons since transferring from Oregon State he has led UMass in dunks each year and produced 92 dunks out of 207 field goals - good for 45 pct.
• Conversely, Putney uses his long, athletic frame to find ways to reach the basket that most players can’t manage. He has 24 dunks, with a good number of those on alley-oops and fast breaks. His soaring throwdown in transition against Saint Joseph’s was named ESPN’s No. 8 Play of the Day (Jan. 14, 2012), the No. 4 Play of the Week (Jan. 16, 2012) and is also a nominee for the GEICO Play of the Year.
PUTNEY NOMINATED FOR DUNK OF THE YEAR
• Raphiael Putney’s alley-oop dunk from half court against St. Bonaventure has been nominated for Dunk of the Year! The Dunk of the Year competition is part of the Dunks of the Year special which airs on ESPN2 March 26.
• Each week for four weeks, six rim-rattling dunks will be nominated for Dunk of the Year. Two winners from each week will be determined by fan voting through the official Facebook page (facebook.com/DunksOfTheYear). The eight finalists will compete in a two-week voting competition to determine the Dunk of the Year. The winner will be announced during the Dunks of the Year special which airs March 26 on ESPN2.
• Fans can vote once per day. Voting ends Monday, Feb. 27 at noon ET.
ESHO NAMED ATLANTIC 10 ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
• Redshirt freshman Maxie Esho was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week following his performance against La Salle on Saturday night. Esho poured in a career-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting to lead all scorers. He also added six rebounds and three steals in a career-high-tying 22 minutes.
• This markes Esho’s first weekly award and the second for UMass this season. Raphiael Putney was named the Co-Player of the Week on Jan. 30. The last time a UMass player earned Rookie of the Week honors was two years ago when Terrell Vinson garnered the award on Dec. 20, 2009.
HOME SWEET HOME AT MULLINS
• UMass is 13-1 at home this season. The 12 consecutive home wins to start the season (11-0 at Mullins, 1-0 at The Cage) was the best since 1993-94 when the squad was a perfect 14-0 at home.
• The 11-consecutive wins at the Mullins Center are the third-longest skein since the facility opened 19 years ago. UMass won its first 27 games in the building.
• UMass is in its 19th season of play at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center and has posted an all-time record of 190-75 (.719). The Minutemen also own a 101-49 (.676) all-time record in regular season Atlantic 10 Conference games at the Mullins Center, and a 3-1 mark in Atlantic 10 Tournament contests.
• Including this season’s record, UMass has gone 29 consecutive seasons without having a losing record on its home court.
UMASS ONE OF A-10’S TOP SCORING TEAMS
• At an average clip of 76.4 points per game, UMass is the top scoring team in the Atlantic 10 and 26th nationally. The Minutemen are one of seven teams in the league to average over 70 points per game.
• UMass is also the fourth-ranked team in the league in terms of scoring margin at plus-6.6 over opponents. Saint Louis (+12.9), La Salle (+8.1) and Temple (+6.8) are the only A-10 teams to have margins higher than the Minutemen.
MINUTEMEN SOLID WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF
• UMass is 13-0 this season when leading at halftime and 6-7 when trailing at the break. In the six wins when they have been behind, the largest deficit overcome to win was six points against both Siena (12/9/11) and Davidson (12/22/11).
• The Minutemen’s largest lead at the half was 19 on two occassions - at East Carolina (12/6/11) and vs. Saint Louis (2/2/12).
• In the last three seasons, UMass is 34-5 (.872) overall and 21-2 (.913) at the Mullins Center when leading at the half.
• UMass has shot .436 from the floor this season 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.
• Also over the last 13 games, Chaz Williams (17.2 pts), Jesse Morgan (11.8 pts), Raphiael Putney (11.2),Terrell Vinson (10.3) and Sean Carter (10.0 pts) have averaged double-figures.
BALANCED SCORING AMONG ROTATION
• While Chaz Williams and Raphiael Putney may be the only Minutemen averaging double-figures in the scoring column over all 27 games, the duo is joined by fellow starters Sean Carter, Jesse Morgan and Terrell Vinson with scoring averages of at least 10 ppg through all 13 Atlantic 10 contests.
• In 12 games this season, UMass has had four or more players reach double-figure point totals, translating into an 11-1 record. Against Utah, Davidson, Central Connecticut, and Fordham, five Minutemen reached double-figures in the scoring column. Against Siena, Williams and Freddie Riley each scored over 20 points in the comeback win.
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 17.3 turnovers per game and scored 21.0 points per game off those takeaways.
• UMass was the beneficiary of 21 turnovers at Rhode Island (2/1), marking the seventh time an opponent has lost the ball at least 20 times. The flip side to that is that the Minutemen recorded 25 points off those 21 URI TOs. UMass has scored at least 20 points off its opponents 13 times this season, topping 30 points four times.
• 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 scored 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.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
• UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging 39.5 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 and 12th nationally. The Minutemen have outrebounded their opponents 14 times this season and are 10-4 in those contests.
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 19 games won this year, UMass is 169-of-444 from three-point land and average 14.3 turnovers per game. In 8 games lost, UMass is just 41-of-176 from deep and average 17.4 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 losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up 6.8 assists in wins, but just 5.9 in the losses.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 27 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 9.3 points in 25.3 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 10.3 points and is averaging over two more rebounds per game (3.0-to-5.7).
• After having a strong freshman campaign in 2009-10, Terrell Vinson saw his scoring dip from 9.6 points per game to 6.5 last season. This year he is back to form averaging 9.3 points in 25.7 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 six (College of Charleston, at La Salle, Saint Louis, at Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure and at Saint Joseph’s).
• 31.8% (657-of-2,064 points) of UMass’ scoring has come from the bench.