SENIOR NIGHT! UMass Hosts GW In Home Finale, Wednesday At 7 p.m.
UMASS (10-17, 5-9) vs. G.WASHINGTON (10-16, 4-10)
SENIOR NIGHT! UMass Hosts GW In Home Finale, Wednesday
UMass comes into the game with a 5-9 record in the Atlantic 10 fighting for a berth in the Atlantic 10 Tournament which begins next Wednesday, March 11 in Atlantic City. With a win against George Washington to Minutemen will clinch a spot in the postseason. UMass is battling with Charlotte (5-9, entering Tuesday's game vs. Richmond), St. Bonaventure (5-10) and George Washington (4-10) for the final three postseason positions.
UMass three senior players have made a major impact on the Minutemen in their tenures in Amherst. Each has played a different number of years with the Minutemen: Chris Lowe all four years, Luke Bonner three years after transferring from West Virginia and Tony Gaffney two years after two seasons at Boston University.
Chris Lowe is UMass' career assist leader with 660 entering the GW game. Lowe is fifth in career assists in Atlantic 10 history. Lowe is currently 31st in career scoring at UMass with 1,097 after reaching the 1,000-point plateau against Richmond on Feb. 4. Lowe is currently tied for seventh in the NCAA in assists per game (6.5). In 121 career games, Lowe is averaging a UMass school record 5.5 assists per game. Lowe was named to the UMass 100 Seasons of Basketball All-2000s Team as selected by the media prior to the season.
Luke Bonner has emerged as a force as a senior with career-highs in points and rebounds at 7.3 and 5.4. Bonner has been a major threat from 3-point range making a career-best 31 3-pointers. Bonner has scored in double-figures five times this season. Bonner has already earned his undergraduate and master's degrees at UMass in his time with the Minutemen.
Tony Gaffney is top candidate for the Atlantic 10's Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player of the Year with a major breakout season as a senior. He is averaging a double-double with 11.7 points and 10.3 rebounds. He is third in the NCAA and first in the Atlantic 10 blocks per game with 4.0. He also ranks second in the league in rebounding and steals. Gaffney became the first player in the NCAA to have 100 blocks (reached against Rhode Island on Feb. 18) and 50 steals (achieved vs. Duquesne on Feb. 25) since Duke's Shelden Williams posted the remarkable accomplishment in 2005-06. Gaffney currently has 109 blocks and 52 steals. Since 1996-97, only five players have reached that combination in a single season. Gaffney has 10 double-doubles this season and 17 games with 10 or more rebounds. His 109 blocks this year is third-most in a season in UMass history.
The Series With George Washington
UMass has won the last two in a row and three of the last four after last season's 67-63 win in Washington on March 8, 2008. The Minutemen have won nine of the last 12 meetings including a six-game win streak from 2000-03.
In the last game at the Mullins Center, the Minutemen topped the Colonials , 91-84 at the Mullins Center on Jan. 10, 2007.
In 2005, the Minuteman win was UMass' epic 76-74 victory in overtime over then-No. 21 GW at the Smith Center on Jan. 15, 2005. With less than a second to play in overtime, Rashaun Freeman caught Anthony Anderson's pass and laid it in the basket in one motion, giving UMass the win. Freeman finished with season-highs of 27 points and 15 rebounds.
The Minutemen had won six straight games in the series, until George Washington posted an 85-74 victory at the Mullins Center in the 2003 Atlantic 10 Tournament.
George Washington holds an 19-7 advantage in games played at the Smith Center, but the Minutemen recorded wins in four of the last five games in D.C. including the 2007 and 2005 games and winning 75-70 on Jan. 25, 2003 and a 64-55 win on Feb. 24, 2001.
UMass is 13-11 all-time against the Colonials in Amherst, including a 5-5 mark in the Mullins Center. Among visiting schools which have played at least five games at Mullins, George Washington is the only one with a record of .500 or better. The teams first met on Feb. 27, 1971 in Madison Square Garden, with the Minutemen posting a 70-65 victory.
The winning team has scored 70 or more points in 45 of 58 series games, with George Washington reaching that mark in 26 of its 33 wins and Massachusetts hitting that score in 19 of 25 victories.
Last Season's UMass-GW Game
Colonial Noel Wilmore missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left and Johnny Lee fell out of out of bounds with the rebound to give UMass back the ball with 9.6 seconds remaining. Forbes made 1-of-2 free throws with 23.5 left for a 66-63 edge. Hollis brought GW back to within two at 65-63 on a lay-up with 28 seconds. Brower's free throws with 44.1 seconds gave UMass a two-possession lead, 65-61.
UMass Playing 55th-Toughest Schedule
The A-10 has three teams playing schedules in the top 60 in difficulty: Temple faces the 44th-toughest, Xavier plays the 48th-toughest, and UMass is playing the 55th-toughest.
Gaffney Among The NCAA Leaders
With 109 blocks and 52 steals, Gaffney has become 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 61st in steals per game with 1.9 per game, which is second in the Atlantic 10 to Duquesne's Damian Saunders (2.3).
He is having a breakout senior season averaging a double-double with 10 double-doubles this season after none in his career in 81 games entering the season. He also had grabbed at least seven rebounds in 22 of 27 games and at least 10 in 17 of the 27 games. He has double-doubles in three of his last six games starting 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) and 17 points and 10 rebounds at Saint Joseph's (2/22). Gaffney has 10 or more rebounds in eight of the last 11 games with that many against Duquesne (2/25).
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 109 blocked shots already rank as the third-best single-season in UMass history. Stpehane Lasme holds the top mark with 168 in 2006-07 while Marcus Camby had 128 in 1995-96. Gaffney's 168 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 Sets Career Assists Mark, Nets 1000th Pt.
Lowe is tied for seventh in the NCAA in the NCAA with 6.5 assists per game, which also is second in the Atlantic 10 lead to Charlotte's DiJuan Harris (7.3). 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.
With his 175 assists this season, Lowe is sixth on the single-season list. Next on the list is Carl Smith with 191 in 1983-84. With his nine assists at La Salle (3/1) he passed No. 6 Alex Eldridge (174), No. 7 Rick Pitino (168) and No. 8 Joe DiSarcina (167).
Lowe became the 41st player in UMass history to pass the 1,000-point plateau. Ricky Harris became the 40th earlier this year. Lowe is the first UMass player with 1,000 points and 600 assists and just the seventh in Atlantic 10 history.
Lowe stands fifth in career assists in the Atlantic 10 with his 660. Next on the list is Temple's Pepe Sanchez (689).
Lowe is up to 31st in career scoring at UMass with 1,097. Next on the list are No. 30 Mike Williams (1,122) and No. 29 Gary Forbes (1,128).
Lowe has eight 10-assist games this season and 14 in his career, all in the last two seasons (all in the last 40 games). He racked up 11 assists vs. Duquesne (2/25)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).
Harris Shoots Up 1,000-Point List
Next on the list for Harris to pass are No. 14 Clarence Hill (1,369). Julius Erving is 13th with 1,370 points in two years.
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 18.4 scoring average and led the team in scoring in 17 of 27 games with 20 or more in 10 games. Harris is 54th 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 199 and fifth in career attempts with 542. 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' 78 made 3-pointers this season is 11th in a single-season. He needs five to move to ninth on the all-time list with Anthony Anderson with 83.
On the single-season list of most 3-pointers attempted, Harris' 197 is 10th-most in a season.
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 20 games (17 starts), he is scoring 7.3 points per game along with 5.4 rebounds. He has made 31-of-74 3-point field goals for a team-best 41.9.
Over his last 12 games -- which he has made a 3-pointer in each game -- Bonner is shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc with 22-of-47.
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 24 offensive fouls in just 20 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.
Gurley Going Great Guns
Gurley has come off the bench for the last four games as Matt Glass has been inserted into the starting line-up. Gurley has netted 19.0 PPG in the last two games including a season-best 20 points at La Salle (3/1). He also scored 18 points off the pine against Duquesne (2/25). Glass has averaged 8.0 points as a starter this year.
Gurley has scored in double-figures 15 times this season most recently with 18 vs. Duquesne. Gurley's second-best scoring game with UMass came against Hofstra (12/20) when he tallied 19.
He has been great in the second half of two of UMass' biggest wins of the season as he netted 13 of his 16 in the final 20 minutes of the win over Dayton (1/10), making four 3-pointers. A week later against Temple (1/17) on ESPN2, Gurley knocked down 13 of his 16 points in the second half including a 4-point play as he was a perfect 3-of-3 in the second half on 3-pointers. Gurley hit a second 4-point play against La Salle (1/24).
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.
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