UMass got a much-needed road victory at Xavier on Saturday and returns home Thursday to play host to Butler on Senior Night in a game that will help determine if either team can lock-up one of the top four spots in the Atlantic 10 standings, thus ensuring a first-round bye in next week's league tournament. UMass is currently in sixth place and a game back of fourth and two back of third with two contests left. Butler is one game ahead of UMass tied with Temple for fourth place.
UMass will conclude the regular-season at rival Rhode Island on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Minutemen defeated the Rams 81-53 on Feb. 6 at the Mullins Center.
WHERE TO WATCH
Thursday's game will be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network with Dave Strader (UMass `77) and Dave Kaplan on the call. Comcast/Xfinity subscribers in the Springfield and Amherst markets can watch the game on channels 66 and 865 (HD). Additionally, the network can be found on the following satellite stations: DirecTV Ch. 220; Dish Ch. 159 and 9466; 4DTV Ch. W5287; C-Band Ch. G7-21; and FAVE Ch. 213.
Charter Cable on the UMass campus carries the NBC Sports Network on channel 28.
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 43.4 pct. from the field, 33.7 pct. from outside and 70.6 pct. from the free throw line, while averaging 73.9 points per game overall. In 14 A-10 games, those numbers are 45.8 pct., 36.6 pct., 70.6 pct. and 74.9 ppg.
UMass averages 7.3 3-pointers made and 22.6 attempts per game. The Minutemen have 202 steals thus far for 7.5 spg, which ranks 98th in the nation. Last season, UMass collected a school-record 326 steals and 8.8 spg. UMass is also second in the A-10 and 27th in blocked shots with 5.1 bpg.
Junior PG Chaz Williams leads the A-10 in assists (7.4, fifth in NCAA) and double-digit assist performances (5). In A-10 games, he is averaging 15.5 points (eighth in the A-10) and shooting 45 pct from the floor and 80 pct from the free throw line.
Thursday's game will be the first ever between the Minutemen and Bulldogs.
SENIORS Freddie Riley, TERRELL VINSON TO BE HONORED THURSDAY NIGHT
Seniors Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson will be honored prior to Thursday night's game for their four-year careers in Amherst.
Riley has appeared in 119 games (tied for 18th in school history) with 36 starts, while scoring 945 career points. He ranks sixth all-time at UMass with 215 3-pointers made and fifth with 648 3-point attempts. Known as a streaky shooter throughout his career, he is having his best season in 2012-13, posting career highs in games started, field goal shooting and 3-point shooting. Twice this year, the Ocala, Fla. native has made five triples in a half en route to hitting his career-high of six makes - something he has attained five times in his career.
Vinson will leave Amherst as one of the most consistent players in program history. He ranks 24th in UMass history with 1,207 points and is just the 20th player to score 1,000 points and grab at least 600 rebounds. His field goal and 3-point percentages are also at their highest figures in his four years. On Saturday he started his 122nd game as a Minuteman, passing Jim McCoy for first all-time. The Baltimore native has made countless big plays during his time in Amherst, including the game-winning buckets as time expired against Memphis as a freshman and earlier this season against Providence at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Terrell Vinson NOW UMASS' CAREER STARTS LEADER
Senior Terrell Vinson made his 122nd career start on Saturday, placing him in first place on the UMass career list and ahead of all-time leading scorer Jim McCoy, who set the record following his career from 1988-92.
Vinson has also appeared in 126 games, tying for sixth place with Tony Barbee (1989-93) and McCoy. Other players with attainable games played for TV include Carmelo Travieso (1993-97) with 130 and Ricky Harris (2006-10) with 129. The complete individual record book can be found near the back of this notes packet.
RILEY, VINSON & CO. MAKING IT RAIN
While UMass connected on a season-best 13 3-pointers at Xavier Saturday, it marked the latest in a string of good shooting games from outside for the Minutemen. Over the past four games, UMass has shot 37-for-84 (.440), making at least seven in each while averaging 9.3 treys per game. The squad has posted a season-high in each of its past two games, shooting 50 pct against Dayton and 52 pct at Xavier.
Two of the primary shooters in recent games have been seniors Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson. Riley, who leads the team with 54 triples, has blistered the nets to the tune of 18-for-35 (.514). Due to his continued success, he has entered the NCAA Rankings for 3-pointers made per game, checking in at 198th with 2.0 per outing. Vinson's stretch of strong shooting dates back eight games where he has shot 17-of-28 (.607). He has also produced the two highest 3-game totals in his career, totalling eight makes against Charlotte, URI and Saint Joe's, before topping that in his most recent trio with nine against St. Bona, Dayton and Xavier. He had a career-high four en route to his game-high 20 points over the Musketeers.
RPI NUMBERS & BRACKETOLOGY
UMass' Official NCAA RPI is 54, following two-consecutive weeks at 55. The Atlantic 10 has six teams in the top 60 and 10 in the top 100, behind only the Big East's 11. Saint Louis (28), Butler (29), VCU (31), Temple (42) and La Salle (45) are ahead of the Minutemen. UMass is 54 with a strength of schedule of 75 in the ESPN Insider RPI, along with 54 and 70 in the CBS Sports.com RPI.
In the game that is sweeping the nation this time of year known as Bracketology, UMass appears to be a 50/50 choice to be in the field of 68 among some of the leading `Bracketologists.' Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com has UMass as a 12 seed playing Kentucky in a First Four game, while Patrick Stevens of USA Today has the Minutemen as an 11 seed playing Villanova in a first round contest. Conversely, ESPN's Joe Lunardi doesn't have UMass among his first eight schools left out of the bracket and Bleacher Report has them as the second team out.
OFFENSE TURNING THE CORNER IN SECOND HALF OF A-10 ACTION
The UMass offense has appeared to hit its stride in the second half of the Atlantic 10 season. The Minutemen are averaging more points per game, shooting better, rebounding at a higher rate and sharing the ball more in the past seven games compared to the first seven.
In the past seven games, UMass is averaging just under 80 points, 37.4 rebounds and 17.9 assists per contest while shooting 47 pct. overall, 41 pct. from outside and 73 pct. from the free throw line. Seven players are seeing at least 20 minutes per game and the team has put at least four players in double figures in five of the seven contests.
KELLOGG AMONG UMASS TOP FIVE IN VICTORIES
With 82 victories entering Thursday's game, fifth-year head coach Derek Kellogg has passed Robert T. Curran (1952-59) for fifth all-time in coaching victories at UMass. Curran finished 81-80 in seven seasons. Next on the list is Harold M. Gore, who collected 85 victories in three stints covering 11 years surrounding World War I. One of Kellogg's mentors, Bruiser Flint is third on the list with 86 `W's.
UMass has been in its share of close game this season, fashioning a 10-4 record in games decided by 5 points or less. While they haven't all been decided in the final minute, here is a brief breakdown of the ones that were.
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 a 17-point comeback in the 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 missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds to play but Red Hawk guard Will Sullivan missed a layup before Putney corralled the rebound as time expired.
And the four 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.
Feb. 16: UMass and Temple wrote one final memorable game in their storied rivalry, with the Owls claiming a 83-82 win at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen had the ball, down by one with 17 seconds left. Chaz Williams handed the ball off to Freddie Riley, who drove to the free throw line, faked a shot and attempted a bounce pass to a cutting Williams, but the ball was partially tipped and time ran out in the ensuing scramble.
Feb. 20: Three days ago UMass and St. Bonaventure played to a 99-94 shootout with the Bonnies emerging with the win. UMass had a chance to tie the game with 20 second left but Chaz Williams' 3-pointer fell short and the teams traded free throws for the remainder of the contest.
UMASS GETTING THE TRANSITION GAME GOING
One of the primary factors during its strong play all season long has been UMass' ability to put together momentum-building scoring runs, while limiting its opponent's opportunities. Probably the most blunt example of this came against Duquesne, the Minutemen collected their third-most lopsided scoring stretch of the season when they outscored the Dukes 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.
They produced a season-high four stretches of plus-9 or better against Rhode Island en route to the most lopsided victory of the season four weeks ago.
This season the Minutemen have compiled 31 scoring runs where the margin was at least nine points, compared to 16 by their opponents.
UMass snapped a five-game losing streak at the Cintas Center and became just the fourth A-10 school to win multiple games over Xavier in the facility. It also marked the sixth time in school history UMass swept the Ohio schools in the regular-season.
UMass improved to 2-6 this season when trailing at the break. Xavier led 35-34 at halftime.
UMass made a season-high 13 3-pointers and shot a season-high for the second-consecutive game with 13-of-25 for 52 pct. (7-of-14 against Dayton last Saturday. In the past two games, the Minutemen are 20-for-39 from outside for 51.3 pct.
Terrell Vinson led all players with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including a career-high four 3-pointers. He was 4-for-5 from outside and is now 17-of-28 (60.7%) in the last eight games. The senior is now averaging 15.4 ppg over that stretch.
Freddie Riley finished the game with 18 points, shooting 6-of-10 from outside as he tied his career-high for threes in a game. His five triples in the second half also tied his career-high, set earlier this season in the first 20 minutes against Eastern Michigan. Riley is riding a career-long six-game double figure scoring streak in which he is averaging 14.3 ppg.
Trey Davis tied his career-high of 12 points while shooting 3-for-6 with a pair of 3-pointers. His 10 first-half points were a career high. He also handed out a career-best six assists and became the first player not named Chaz Williams to solely lead UMass in assists since March 6, 2012 - a span of 32 games.
Chaz Williams played a season-low 22 minutes (6 in the first half) on Saturday due to foul trouble, marking the fifth fewest in 96 career games and the fewest since his ninth game as a true freshman at Hofstra (12/9/09 vs. Manhattan).
DEFENSE CREATES OFFENSE
The transition offense can't get going unless the UMass defense does its job and that has certainly been the case in recent weeks. The Minutemen have held four of the last eight opponents to less than 40 pct. from the floor, with nine-game totals of .427 overall and .331 from 3-point range.
Additionally, the last nine foes are averaging 68.9 points per game with five of the nine being held to 66 points or less.
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 power of UMass.
1,000-POINT CLUB GAINS NEW MEMBERS
Junior PG Chaz Williams scored his 1,000th career point in the win over Siena and recorded his 1,000th point at UMass two weeks ago against Temple. Earlier in the season, senior F Terrell Vinson finished with 10 points against Northern Illinois in December to become the 43rd member of the 1,000-Point Club at UMass. He now ranks 24th at UMass with 1,207 points following his 20 points at Xavier.
Additionally, senior G Freddie Riley enters the Butler game with 945 career points. With his current average of 8.6 points per game, the Minutemen would need to play at least seven more games to reach the mileston. That number of games could be reduced if Riley continues to score in double figures, as he has done in each of the last six games, posting 14.3 ppg in that stretch.
CHAZ AMONG SELECT COMPANY
As a sophomore last season, PG Chaz Williams was one of just three players in the country to average 16.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds, joining Nate Wolters of South Dakota State and Tim Frazier of Penn State. This year he has replicated those numbers and is the only Division I player with averages of at least 15.0 ppg, 7.0 apg and 4.0 rpg.
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 23-4 at the Mullins Center since the start of last season and 25-4 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 191-78 (.710) following the Temple game. The Minutemen also own a 108-50 (.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.
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.