UMass Seeks First-Round Bye In Finale At GW, Saturday Night
UMASS (20-9, 9-6) at G. WASH. (9-16, 5-10)
Heading into the last regular-season game at George Washington, their is a lot at stake for UMass. The Minutemen, riding a five-game win streak are peaking at the right time heading to the Atlantic 10 Tournament which begins in Atlantic City on March 12. UMass (20-9 overall) is in a three-way tie for third place in the league heading into Saturday's action at 9-6. Richmond and Saint Joseph's are also 9-6. Temple stands second at 10-5. The Minutemen are eying one of four first-round byes, and a win will go a long way to help that cause. But there is one scenario where UMass could win Saturday at George Washington and not get a first round bye. Should UMass end in a tie with Temple, Richmond and Saint Joseph's all at 10-6, the Minutemen would lose the tie-breaker and finish fifth as all four teams are grouped and the record amongst the four is used. But in all other scenarios including ties UMass would be in the top four. George Washington enters Saturday needing a win and a loss by Fordham in the 1 p.m. game against Fordham. By the time the UMass-GW game tips off the Minutemen and Colonials will know what is at stake, since it is the last game of the day. Saturday's Schedule: St. Bonaventure at Fordham (1 p.m.), Saint Joseph's at Dayton (2 p.m.), Saint Louis at Duquesne (4 p.m.), Temple at La Salle (4 p.m.), Charlotte at Rhode Island (7 p.m.), Richmond at Xavier (7 p.m.) and UMass at George Washington (7:30 p.m.).
Live streaming video will be available on UMass All-Access on UMassAthletics.com The game will be carried on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM WRNX in Western Massachusetts and on 830 AM (WCRN) in Central Mass and 95.9 FM (WATD) in Eastern Mass. Bob Behler calls the action alongside color analyst Tim Kenney.
UMass has won five games in a row, averaging 88.6 points in the quintet of wins. The Minutemen knocked off Saint Louis (88-77), Rhode Island (98-91), St. Bonaventure (79-56), won at Richmond (78-74) for the first time in history and pounded La Salle (100-63). It is the longest winning streak since taking six games in a row at the end of December and early January.
UMass comes off its most complete showing of the year in a 100-63 trouncing of La Salle on Senior Night at the Mullins Center on Wednesday. The list of achievements in the game is long. The A-10 Player of the Year Candidate Gary Forbes scored his 1,000th point at UMass as he racked up 26 points and 11 rebounds in his final regular-season home game. Chris Lowe posted the sixth triple-double in UMass history with 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. Three other Minutemen reached double-figures as sophomore Ricky Harris scored 21, Dante Milligan tallied 18 points, six rebounds and blocked five shots. Etienne Brower started slow, but finished with 11 points. It gave UMass its 20th win of the season, the 14th time in school history.
UMass' Senior Class
The senior class is made up five players, playing three different lengths of years at UMass. Over the last two years (Forbes and Brower), UMass is a combined 44-18 (71.0). Over the last three years (Milligan and Pennie), UMass is 57-33 (63.3). The lone four-year member is Ampim and UMass is 73-45 (61.9) in his tenure.
UMass' 20-Win Season
Last year, UMass picked up its 20th win of the season on Feb. 21, 2007 beating St. Bonaventure, 83-44. The win gave the Minutemen their first 20-win season since 1997-98 when UMass went 21-11. Prior to that season, UMass last won 20 or more when they set the school record for wins a season when a 35-2 record the Final Four season of 1995-96.
Last year was UMass' 13th 20-win season in school history. The Minutemen had their first 20-win season in 1970-71, when they went 23-4.
Racking Up A-10 Player Of Week Honors
This week, Harris was honored after he averaged 19.0 ppg in a 2-0 UMass week. Harris hit seven 3-pointers in the two wins. He shared the award with Richmond's Dan Geriot.
Chris Lowe earned his first-ever Atlantic 10 Player of Week honor two weeks ago. He was recognized with La Salle's Darnell Harris as co-players of the week. Lowe averaged 17.0 points and 11.5 assists in a 2-0 week for the Minutes, who knocked off a Saint Louis and Rhode Island.
The Series With George Washington
UMass has won eight of the last 11 meetings including a six-game win streak from 2000-03. The Minutemen topped the Colonials last season, 91-84 at the Mullins Center on Jan. 10. GW won the last meeting in D.C., with two season ago's 69-66 narrow score at GW. The previous 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 for the Minutemen, who beat their second ranked opponent in 2004-05.
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. GW won three seasons ago, 76-61, at the Mullins Center on Jan. 10, 2004.
George Washington holds an 19-6 advantage in games played at the Smith Center, but the Minutemen recorded wins in three of the last four games in D.C. including the 2005 game 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 57 series games, with George Washington reaching that mark in 26 of its 33 wins and Massachusetts hitting that score in 19 of 24 victories.
The Last GW Game
Forbes Hits 1,000 UMass Points
Forbes is now 37th all-time with 1,020 points. He has a chance to zoom up the chart as 20 points would move him to 33rd. Next up are No. 36 Tim Edwards (1,022), No. 35 Derrick Claiborne (1,033), No. 34 David Brown (1,037) and No. 33 Charlton CLarke (1,041).
Forbes is also moving up the charts in terms of single-season marks at UMass. He is already eighth in single-season points with 590. Only five players in UMass history (Julius Erving, Marcus Camby, Lou Roe, Jim McCoy and Monty Mack) have scored more in a year at UMass. Next on the list is McCoy with 623 with 18.9.
Forbes' 20.3 points per game stands as the eighth-best single-season scoring mark in history. He is on pace to be the first 20-point scorer since Camby in 1995-96, who scored 20.5 per game.
Lowe Moving Up Assists Chart
Lowe has four games with 10 or more assists in the lst six outings. He set career-high 13 against Saint Louis (2/17). That was the highest total since all-time leader Carl Smith tied the school record with 15 on Jan. 23, 1986. Then, Lowe bettered it in the La Salle game, which with 14 is tied for the fourth-most assists in a game in UMass history.
With his 167 assists this season, Lowe is up to the seventh-best single-season in UMass history. He is set to move to fifth with seven more assists as he would pass Alex Eldridge (174) and Rick Pitino (168).
Lowe is averaging 10.0 assists in his last six games with his first four career games with 10 or more assists with double-doubles in the three of the last six games including the sixth triple-double in UMass history.
Lowe's Amazing Triple-Double
Prior to Lasme, the only triple-double was by Al Skinner in 1973.
Updating The RPI
UMass plays the 58th-toughest schedule in the nation. That number was in the top 20 for most of the year until the Fordham game. The Minutemen have a 7-6 record against top 100 teams. UMass has beaten No. 38 Dayton, No. 52 Syracuse, No. 58 Rhode Island (twice), No. 66 Houston and No. 95 Charlotte.
Scoring, More and More
With the new offense, UMass is scoring at a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 83.1 points per game, up from 77.3 points (+5.8) through 29 games last season and 77.3 points (+5.8) for the entire season.
UMass is tied with Texas State for fourth in the NCAA in scoring through March 6 with 83.1 per game. The Minutemen are also first in the Atlantic 10 scoring moving ahead of No. 8 Duquesne (82.3). VMI leads the nation with a 91.3 average.
UMass has scored 80 or more points 15 times with a 13-2 record in those games. The Minutemen have reached 90 points nine times, standing, 8-1.
UMass has been one of two squads with two players in the in the Top 50 NCAA scoring leaders for nearly the entire season (until Feb. 11) with Gary Forbes, who is now 34th with a 20.3 average and Ricky Harris, who was as high as 28th, is now 67th at 18.0.
UMass is 29th in total 3-pointers made with 265. With 9.1 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10 and is 26th in the NCAA in 3s per game. UMass has made 10 or more treys in 12 games, most recently with 14 against La Salle.
Showing Major Improvement
Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 18.0 points per game after just 4.5 last season as a freshman. He played in 32 games, all off the bench, but has started every game this season. Harris has 523 points this year after 145 all of last year. He passed his entire scoring total in the eighth game of the season against Marist with 18 points. He leads all Minutemen and all players in the Atlantic 10 in scoring improvement at +13.5 points per game. Harris scored in double-figures in the first 18 games this season and in 26 of 29 overall with a career-high 30 at Saint Joseph's (1/23). He also scored 25 on four occasions (at Syracuse, at Boston College, at Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph's). He scored more than 15 in each of the first four games, surpassing his freshman-season high of 14 each time.
Senior Etienne Brower has become the force UMass thought he would be after transferring from Boston University. Brower is averaging 12.7 points, starting 22 games after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 368 points in 29 games after just 59 all of last year in 22 games. He passed his entire total in the fifth game of the season with 75 after the Wis.-Green Bay (11/17) game which he scored a career-high 25 points. Over an eight-game span from Jan. 27-Feb. 21, Brower averaged 18.1 points including 20 or more in four of those eight games. He set a new career-high with 26 points at Rhode Island (2/21) including 8-of-10 from the floor and 5-7 from 3-point range. He had 22 vs. Xavier (1/27) and 21 against both Temple (2/10) and Duquesne (1/30).
Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in 10 games this season. He had just four double-figure games in 32 contests last season. He netted a career-best 21 against Saint Louis (2/17) in front of more than 40 friends and family. He had his previous career-high of 17 in two of three games at Syracuse (11/28) and against Yale (11/14). Milligan's season-high last year was 10 points which he accomplished twice. Milligan has taken his averages from 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds to 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds. An increase of 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds.
Junior Luke Bonner is also seeing more time and making his signature 3-pointers. Bonner, who averaged just 1.6 points in 06-07 is up to 3.6 per game and has made 18-of-48 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
After finishing third in the nation (7.45) in blocked shots with the nation's top shot blocker in Lasme, UMass is fourth in 2007-08 with 7.3 per game with A-10 foe Duquesne ahead at 7.4. UConn (8.7) and Mississippi State (8.0) and lead the nation.
UMass has eight games with 10 or more blocks most recently with 15 against La Salle (3/5).
The Minutemen picked up 41 blocks in three games (13.7 per game) from Dec. 22-Jan. 2. The Minutemen had 18 swats against Central Connecticut on Dec. 22 for the second-most prolific shot blocking game in school history. The only game with more came with a school-record of 20 on Jan. 3, 1995 in a win over West Virginia at the Springfield Civic Center. UMass followed that up with 14 blocks vs. Boston University.
The Minutemen hold the top four shot blocking days in Atlantic 10 history led by the 1995 showing and this year's party against CCSU. UMass also had 16 against St. Francis (N.Y.) last year and St. Peter's in 2005.
The 18 blocked shots ties for the ninth most in a game in NCAA history, dating to 1985 when blocked shots became an official statistic.
Among The A-10 Leaders
After an early season ankle injury, Chris Lowe has returned to his usual form and place amongst the leaders when it comes to point guards. He is first in the league in assists with 6.2 per game. With 60 assists in his last six games, he is now tied for 11th in the NCAA in assist average. He had a career-high 14 assists vs. La Salle (3/5) to better his 13 against Saint Louis (2/17) on the heels of his first-career game in double-figure assists against Fordham (2/14) with 10. He is also third in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.11. Lowe tied his career-high with 23 points against Rhode Island (2/7). When Lowe has five or more assists this season, UMass is 16-3. The Minutemen are 2-6, when he has less than five.
Milligan is shooting 64.2 from the floor (95-of-148), but is shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he were eligible, Milligan would rank sixth nationally and first in the A-10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 64.2, an improvement of 14.8 percent. Milligan is tied with Gaffney for third in the Atlantic 10 in blocks with 1.72.
Harris is sixth in steals per game with 1.6 and sixth in 3-pointers per game with 2.66.
With his sensational 51 percent shooting from 3-point range of the last 13 games, Etienne Brower is now fifth in the league in 3-point field goal percentage at 43.3. He is also 10th in the league in rebounding at 6.5.
UMass Continues Home Dominance
Ford-Tough At Home
UMass Against Ranked Teams
This season the Minutemen are 1-2 against ranked teams, losing at then-No. 15 Vanderbilt on Jan. 5, 97-88, in Nashville and falling to #23/22 Xavier on Jan. 27, 77-65, at the Mullins Center.
Last season, UMass played just one ranked team when they lost at No. 4 Pittsburgh, 85-68 on Nov. 18, 2006. Two seasons ago, UMass lost to No. 3 UConn, 78-60 on Dec. 8, 2005, to No. 11 Boston College, 91-62 on Jan. 3, 2006 and to No. 7 to George Washington, 69-66 on Feb. 15, 2006.
UMass head coach Travis Ford won his first-ever game as a head coach against a ranked team with the win at Dayton. He is 1-6 at UMass after going 0-9 while coaching at Eastern Kentucky from 2000-05.
All-time, UMass is 30-67 against ranked teams.
For the week of Jan. 21, UMass received 47 votes in the AP Poll to effectively rank the Minutemen No. 31. It was the most points UMass received since the 1998-99 season. UMass was part of "Others Receiving Votes" from Dec. 17-Jan. 7 polls. In the Jan. 7 poll, UMass had five points, UMass would have been ranked 34th. UMass had eight points on Dec. 31. UMass received six points in the Associated Press media poll on Dec. 17 and 24. UMass has received votes in a week for the 10th time in the last two seasons with the votes on Jan. 7. Last season, the Minutemen received a season-best 11 votes in the March 3, 2007 poll to "rank" them 37th that week.
The last time UMass was ranked in the AP Poll was in the Nov. 18, 1998 poll, when the Minutemen came in at No. 23.
Three Atlantic 10 teams have been ranked this season with highs of Dayton at No. 14, Rhode Island at No. 22 and Xavier at No. 20. When all three were ranked in the same weeks of Jan. 7 and Jan. 14, it was the first time since the 2003 season, the A-10 had three ranked teams.
This week, Xavier is No. 15. Dayton, Rhode Island and Saint Joseph's are including in "Others Receiving Votes".
UMass also played No. 14 Vanderbilt (17-3), one of the final five undefeated teams in the nation, in a 97-88 loss on January 5.
For the Jan. 21 week, UMass received votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll for the first time this season with nine points. Effectively, UMass was 33rd in the nation according to that poll. Last season, UMass received one vote in March for its only other time with points in the last two seasons.
Getting It Done In 3s
The Minutemen also had three players grab 10 rebounds in a game for the first time since 1999. UMass was led by Tony Gaffney, who also had a career-high six blocked shots, with 12. Dante Milligan had 11 rebounds and Forbes had 10 to give him his fourth double-double of the season.
Beating the ACC & Big East
Harris Gains National, A-10 Honors
Forbes Earns National, A-10 Honors
In the win at BC, Forbes also pulled down seven rebounds. For the week, he shot 13-of-28 from the field and 18-for-19 from the line on the week. He was also named A-10 Player of the Week after the second week of the season on Nov. 18.
Forbes was honored by the A-10 for the first time after his outstanding play on Nov. 18 as he was named the Atlantic 10's co-player of the week along with Rhode Island's Will Daniels. Forbes averaged 24.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in three contests between Nov. 11-17. He scored a season-best 29 points, including the 1,000th of his career, on Nov. 11 at Northern Iowa. He added 19 points and nine boards in the Minutemen's 89-80 win over Yale on Nov. 14. Finally, he scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists against Green Bay (11/17). That game was special to Forbes as he played before his father Roberto for the first time in his collegiate career. Roberto was visiting from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia.
UMass Wins Commonwealth Classic
UMass' athletic teams had great success against Boston College athletic teams in the 2007 calendar year. The Minutemen and Minutewomen posted a 10-2-1 record against BC in 10 different sports. Most notably, UMass' men's soccer team, which played in the NCAA College Cup on Dec. 7, knocked off No. 1-seeded Boston College on Nov. 28, by the score of 2-1. Additionally, UMass' softball team beat BC twice last spring, while the Minuteman hockey team has a 2-0-1 record against the Eagles, who won the 2007 Hockey East title. One of UMass' losses came in football, where the FBS Eagles were challenged by UMass' FCS team on Sept. 29, in a 24-14 BC win at Alumni Stadium. The Minutemen, who play with only 63 scholarships in the former Division I-AA, were within 17-14 in the fourth quarter.
The basketball win also marked the first win vs. an ACC opponent since the Minutemen defeated Florida State, 78-68 on Feb. 15, 2005.
UMass also defeated alumnus Al Skinner for the first time since 1999, after Skinner had won eight in a row. Skinner is one of four former UMass players to have his number retired. Skinner had his No. 30 retired on Feb. 18, 2004. All-time against his alma mater, Skinner is 11-21
Bits From The 107-Point Outburst
The 107 points were the most UMass has scored in a regulation game since a 110-97 win over Duquesne on Jan. 6, 1977. It tied for the 11th-most points in a game for UMass as it also scored 107 in a win over Colgate in 1966.
The 207 combined points tied for the third-most points in a game in UMass annals. The record is 233, when UMass lost at Rutgers in triple overtime, 119-114 on Feb. 27, 1988.
The other game with more total points (214) marked the last time UMass played in a game where both teams scored 100 points in a regulation when North Texas beat the Minutemen, 110-104 on Dec. 29, 1982.
UMass continues to be the personal bug-a-boo for Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim. Of schools the legend has faced two or more times, UMass is the ONLY school which Boeheim has never beaten. The Minutemen are 3-0, winning in 1992, 1995 and 2007 against the Orange.
In the epic win, UMass rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to come away with the win. Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with a career-high 25 points while Gary Forbes added 23 points. Forbes also had seven assists and six rebounds in what Travis Ford called his best game at UMass.
25 Is Twice As Nice
UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off
2006-07 A Season To Remember
The Minutemen captured a share of the league title on March 3 with a 71-67 win at Saint Joseph's. It marked UMass' first regular-season league title since 1996 and sixth A-10 regular-season crown overall. The Minutemen won five straight regular-season titles from 1992-96 and proceeded to win the A-10 Tournament each time.
The Minutemen went 24-9 overall and had the best season since the 1995-96 Final Four year when they went 35-2 in finishing as a national semifinalist. UMass finished with a 13-3 record in the Atlantic 10. UMass had its best conference record since going a school-record 15-1 in 1995-96. Prior to the loss to Saint Louis in the A-10s, the Minutemen had won six games in a row overall, their longest win streak since capturing 10 games in a row in Jan.-Feb. 1998.
UMass senior Stephane Lasme was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07. Lasme is the first UMass player to be named the league's top player since Marcus Camby in 1996 and fourth overall joining Camby, Lou Roe (1995) and Harper Williams (1992). Lasme was named an AP Honorable Mention All-American following the season. He was UMass' first All-American honoree since Camby in 1996.
Lasme was joined by senior Rashaun Freeman on the A-10 First Team. Freeman is the first player since Saint Joseph's Jameer Nelson (2001-04) to be a three-time first-team selection.
Lasme is the second player to be named the league's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same campaign joining Pepe Sanchez of Temple in 1999 and David West of Xavier in 2002. Lasme joined Tony Dobbins of Richmond (2002-04) as the only players in league history to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors in successive seasons. Lasme was also named to the All-Defensive Team for the second year in row.
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