Men's Basketball

UMass Battles SIU For Chance To Return To MSG

Chris Lowe needs four assists for 500 in his career.

Chris Lowe needs four assists for 500 in his career.

Nov. 12, 2008

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Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 • 8 pm (ET)
SIU ARENA Center (9,628), CARBONDALE, Ill.
Radio: WRNX (100.9 FM - Flagship)
WCRN (830 AM), WATD (95.9 FM)

UMass Battles SIU for chance to Return to MSG
• Following a 90-71 season-opening victory over Arkansas-Monticello, the UMass basketball team will take on host Southern Illinois in the Carbondale Regional final of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. The winner of the game will advance to the 2K Sports Semifinals at Madison Square Garden and play No. 5 Duke next Thursday at 7 of 9:30 p.m., on ESPN2. SIU won its first game of the year against California, Pa., 66-52 on Tuesday night.

• UMass alum Derek Kellogg picked up his first win as a head coach in the opener and sixth straight UMass coach to win their first game with the Minutemen. UMass has also now won six season opening games in a row and 14 of their last 16 openers.

• UMass is seeking to return to Madison Square Garden for the second time in seven months as the Minutemen advanced to the NIT Finals in April. UMass knocked off defending 2007 NCAA champion Florida in the semifinals at MSG, 78-66 before losing to 2007 NCAA champ Ohio State, 92-85 in the NIT Final on April 3. UMass fans supported the Minutemen in huge numbers as more than 4,000 fans made the way from Amherst to New York for each of the games. It was a major showing and demonstrated the revitalization of UMass basketball.

UMass-SIU Series Notes
• UMass has only faced Southern Illinois once before. The Minutemen lost to the Salukis, 65-63 on Dec. 21, 1999 in the Puerto Rico Holiday Classic.

• When playing teams from Illinois, UMass is 4-3 with a 3-1 mark vs. DePaul from Chicago, 1-0 vs. Northern Illinois (a 102-87 win last season), 0-1 vs. Southern Illinois, falling in 1999-2000 and 0-1 against Bradley, losing to the Braves in 1964-65.

• When playing teams from the Missouri Valley, the Minutemen are 0-5: Bradley (0-1), Evansville (0-2), Northern Iowa (0-1 - losing last season 75-68) and Southern Illinois (0-1).

Notes From UMass' Opening Win Over UAM
Tony Gaffney had his first-career double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Chris Lowe had his fourth-career double-double with 18 points and 11 assists.

• Gaffney had a career-high 13 rebounds, previous high was 12 at Duquesne last season.

• Gaffney had his fourth-career game with 10 or more rebounds.

• Gaffney had his fifth-career game with 10 or more points.

• Lowe had his seventh-career game with 10 or more assists.

• Lowe had his 31st career game in double-figures.

Anthony Gurley had 14 in his UMass debut and 11th-career game in double-figures.

Tyrell Lynch made his college debut with four points, three rebounds and two assists.

Travon Wilcher hit his first college field goal attempt with a minute left.

UMass At The "World's Most Famous Arena"
• All-time at Madison Square Garden, UMass has an 9-13 overall record following the 2008 NIT Finals run. The Minutemen beat Florida in the NIT semifinal and lost to Ohio State in the NIT championship. Prior to last season, UMass last played at the Garden in the 2005 Panasonic Holiday Festival. UMass split two games, beating St. Peter's (66-49) and losing to St. John's (51-49) in the final.

• UMass has had two of the biggest wins in school history at the Garden, beating a ranked team for the first time ever and beating a No. 1 team for the first time ever.

• The Minutemen are 6-3 in regular-season games at the "Mecca of Basketball" including a 1-1 mark in the 1993 Preseason NIT and 5-2 in other regular-season games, mostly against metro New York area teams. The Minutemen are 1-8 in the postseason NIT, winning only once in 1973, over Missouri, 78-71 -- the first win over a ranked team in school history.

• Prior to the 2005 Holiday Festival, UMass had not played at MSG in nearly 10 years when then-No. 1 UMass beat Fordham, 73-47 on Feb. 6, 1996 as part of the Chemical Bank Challenge. In that game, current Denver Nugget Marcus Camby led UMass with 26 points as then UMass coach and current Memphis coach John Calipari won his 100th Atlantic 10 game.

• The most memorable game for UMass at the Garden came in the 1994 Preseason NIT. then-No. 18 UMass beat No. 1 North Carolina, 91-86 in overtime on Nov. 24, for the Minutemen's first win over a No. 1-ranked team in school history. Lou Roe led UMass with 28 points. With the big win and nation taking notice, the Minutemen played No. 6 Kansas tough two nights later but lost to the Jayhawks, 86-75 as Roe had a team-high 25 points.

• UMass played its first-ever game at MSG against St. Peter's. The then-Redmen beat St. Peter's 94-75 on Feb. 1, 1962. UMass played Iona in each of the next two seasons at the Garden, losing both times.

• UMass made its postseason NIT debut at the Garden in 1970, falling to Marquette, 62-55 on Mar. 14. Hall of Famer Julius Erving was held to just 18 points in the game -- only the second time that season he failed to score 20 in a game -- as he averaged 25.7 that season.

A Chance To Return To The Garden
Chris Lowe is the lone New York area native on the roster. He played in the Garden twice while at Mount Vernon High School, during his senior year in 2005, Lowe played against Rice High School and also played against Bayonne (N.J.) as a junior in 2004. He has gone on to play in four games at the Garden with UMass in 2005 and 2008.

• Assistant coach Adam Ginsburg is a New York-area native being from Baldwin, N.Y., on Long Island. He has coached at the Garden in both the 2005 ECAC Holiday Festival in addition to the 2008 NIT Finals.

• Also of note, other members of the UMass staff including head coach Derek Kellogg along with Andy Allison and Shyrone Chatman were part of the Memphis staff which won the 2007 2K Sports Classic at the Garden. Memphis knocked off UConn in the final, 81-70 after being Oklahoma in the semifinals. 100th Season Of UMass Basketball

• UMass is celebrating the 100th season of UMass basketball in 2008-09. UMass will be honoring six eras/decades throughout the season by inviting back every living UMass player to attend his respective celebration. The first event is set for the Boston College game on Dec. 6 at 8:30 p.m., honoring the Classic Era (1899-1959).

• 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 has 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 through 1915-16 and during World War II in both 1943-44 and 1944-45.

• All-time, UMass has played 2,116 games with a 1,122-994 all-time record.

• 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 In Regular-season Tournaments
• For the third year in a row UMass is playing an early-season tournament. This is the second straight year UMass is opening with a tournament.

• Last season, UMass went 2-1 in the BTI Tip-Off Classic in Iowa. The Minutemen started 2-0, beating Cal Poly, 90-64 on Nov. 9, 2007 and Northern Illinois, 102-87 on Nov. 10, 2007. UMass lost the finale to host Northern Iowa, 75-68 on Nov. 11, 2007.

• Two years ago in 2006-07, UMass played in its first regular-season tournament in four years as the Minutemen went 2-1 at the First Commonwealth Colonial Athletic Association Classic at Pittsburgh. UMass defeated Oakland, 65-56 and Northeastern, 79-56. The host No. 4 Panthers beat the Minutemen, 85-68.

• Prior to 2006-07, the last regular-season tournament UMass played in was the 2002 Maui Invitational, where the Minutemen went 1-2, beating host Chaminade (69-55) and falling to No. 22 Indiana (84-71) and Utah (69-53).

• UMass last went undefeated in a tournament at the 1995 Rainbow Classic in Hawaii, winning three games. The Minutemen beat NC State (78-67), USC (78-63) and Syracuse (65-47) on the way to the NCAA Final Four in April 1996.

• The Minutemen have played eight regular-season tournaments since the win at Honolulu and have won 11 of the 22 games.

• UMass has never played in the 2K Sports Classic, formerly known as the Coaches Vs. Cancer Tournament.

• The last time UMass played in a tournament that extended over two sessions, as this tournament does, was the 2003-04 Preseason NIT where UMass beat Saint Francis (N.Y.) at the Mullins Center and lost at Texas Tech in the second round. UMass had a similar fate in the 1998-99 Preseason NIT beating Niagara at home and losing at St. John's. The last time UMass advanced to finals of a bridged tournament was the 1993-94 Preseason NIT as UMass beat Cleveland State and Towson in Amherst before heading to Madison Square Garden beating No. 1 North Carolina in the semifinals and losing to No. 7 Kansas in the championship game.

UMass Alum Leading UMass
Derek Kellogg is the first UMass alum to serve as the head coach of his alma mater since Tom McLaughlin, who coached the Minutemen from 1981-83. Kellogg graduated from UMass in 1995 where he was an All-Atlantic 10 selection in 1995. McLaughlin graduated from UMass in 1973 where he was one of three future head coaches on the team. He was joined by current Boston College head coach Al Skinner and Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Kellogg is not the current head coach from the UMass rosters in the mid-90s as Tony Barbee is in his fourth year as the head coach at Texas-El Paso.

• 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.

Coaches In UMass Debuts
• The last six UMass basketball coaches won their Minuteman debuts after Derek Kellogg won his first game against Arkansas-Monticello. Prior to Kellogg, Travis Ford led UMass past Hartford, 67-62 on Nov. 18, 2005.

• Starting with Ron Gerlufson's 75-73 win over New Hampshire in 1983, John Calipari, Bruiser Flint, Steve Lappas and Ford all won their UMass debut games.

• Kellogg was the third coach in the last five to begin their UMass career against a Division II team as both of his friends and mentors John Calipari and Bruiser Flint did the same as Calipari beat Southern Connecticut, 84-61 in 1988 and Flint topped Chamindae, 59-48 in 1996.

• Interestingly, Kellogg was the second coach in three to make his UMass debut against a team from Arkansas. Lappas led the Minutemen past Arkansas-Little Rock, 66-60, on Nov. 16, 2001.

UMass In Seasons Openers
• In the 100th season opener all-time, UMass owns a 67-33 mark in season openers, including victories in 14 out of the last 16 seasons. UMass has won its last six season openers with the 90-71 win over Arkansas-Monticello in Carbondale. Four of which were at home at the Mullins Center. Last season, UMass opened the year at the BTI Tip-Off Classic in Cedar Falls, Iowa and defeated Cal Poly, 90-64. Two seasons ago, UMass pounded Dartmouth, 98-61 at the Mullins Center on Nov. 11, 2006. In Travis Ford's debut at UMass on Nov. 18, 2005, the Minutemen beat Hartford, 67-62. UMass beat Birmingham Southern in the 04-05 opener, 64-60, on Nov. 22, 2004 and defeated St. Francis (N.Y.), 84-71 in the 2003-04 opener, 80-58 as part of the Preseason NIT.

• The last time UMass lost its season opener was six years ago, when the Minutemen dropped an 84-71 decision to No. 22 Indiana in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 25, 2002. Prior to that, UMass posted victories in four straight season openers, against Arkansas-Little Rock (66-60 in 2001-2002), Iona (67-65 in 2000-2001 and 85-77 in 1999-2000) and Niagara (87-73 in 1998-1999).

• UMass is a perfect 8-0 in season openers which have been played at the Mullins Center. In 2002-03, was the last time they lost a home opener, when Boston College beat the Minutemen, 80-62 on Dec. 7, 2002.

UMass 6th; Harris & Lowe Honored
• The UMass men's basketball team has been picked sixth in the preseason poll released by the Atlantic 10 coaches and media on Oct. 29 as part of the league's media day. Senior point guard Chris Lowe was named the A-10 Preseason First Team while junior guard Ricky Harris has earned a spot on the Preseason Second Team. Lowe was also named to the Preseason All-Defensive Team.

UMass Gets Preseason Honors
• With UMass alum Derek Kellogg in town to lead the Minutemen attack, the program is getting considerable attention from national media as it hopes to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1997-98. Lindy's and Athlon both predict UMass to finish in the top five in the Atlantic 10 while Ricky Harris is tabbed to have a breakout year as well.

• Lindy's predicts that the Minutemen will finish fourth behind St. Joseph's, Temple, and Xavier. It mentions the good news as "Derek Kellogg returns to his alma mater and has plenty of perimeter firepower." Lindy's includes Harris on the First Team All-Conference while recognizing Chris Lowe with "Top Playmaker" in its honor roll. The magazine also includes a mention of freshman point guard David Gibbs, who will now "run the dribble-drive offense new coach Derek Kellogg is bringing to UMass from Memphis."

• Athlon sports predict that the Minutemen will finish fifth, trailing Xavier, Temple, Charlotte, and Dayton, while earning their third-consecutive NIT berth. Like Lindy's, Athlon predicts Harris to be a First-Team All-Atlantic 10 performer. Replacing A-10 player of the Year Gary Forbes will be a challenge, but Athlon says "Wake Forest transfer Anthony Gurley should give Kellogg another wing scorer...Young guards Gary Correia and David Gibbs will provide depth."

• Sporting News predicts a 10th place finish for the up-tempo Minutemen. The publication thinks that with Gibbs on board (to go along Lowe, a senior), "the Minutemen should be able to play at breakneck speed." It predicts that the best shot-blocker in the conference will once again come from UMass (Tony Gaffney), while Lowe is deemed the "best passer." Sporting News identifies three-point shooting as a big asset as "Together, Harris and Gurley give UMass a pair of solid three-point threats."

• has pegged Anthony Gurley as the No. 3 overall impact transfer in all of Division I.

Lowe Moving Up Assists Chart
Chris Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass as he stands fourth with 496. Next on the list is Alex Eldridge (518). After piling up 11 assists in the opener vs. Arkansas-Monticello (11/11), Lowe is just four shy of 500 in his career.

• With his career-high 14 against La Salle (3/5), Lowe moved past UMass Hall of Famer Joe DiSarcina (431) into fifth. With five assists against CCSU (12/22), he passed BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and then with five more against Houston (1/2), he passed Louisville coach Rick Pitino (329).

• Lowe had five games with 10 or more assists in 2007-08, most recently with 11 at Syracuse in the NIT Quarterfinals. He set a then-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 214 assists last season, Lowehad the third-best single-season in UMass history after passing Smith (212), Smith (191), Alex Eldridge (174) and Rick Pitino (168).

• With a similar season as a senior, Lowe would be on pace to pass all-time career assist leader Smith (633).

• Lowe averaged 8.4 assists in his last 13 games with his first five career games with 10 or more assists with double-doubles in the three of the last 10 games including the sixth triple-double in UMass history.




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