Finally, UMass Returns Home, Hosts Toledo On Saturday Night
UMASS (7-2) vs. TOLEDO (2-7)
Finally, UMass Returns Home, Hosts Toledo
With the wins at Syracuse and BC, UMass has beaten teams from the Big East and ACC for the first time since 2004-05 when UMass defeated UConn and Florida State at home. The last time UMass beat teams from those two conferences away from home came in 1999-2000 when the Minutemen last won at BC, prior to Wednesday, and beat Florida State at Sunrise, Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic.
With the wins, UMass has risen to No. 18 in the RPI rankings based on RealtimeRPI.com as of mid-day on Friday, Dec. 14. Immediately following the game, UMass was at No. 17. The Atlantic 10 has four teams in the Top 20 of the RPI led by No. 7 Dayton and No. 8 Xavier. Rhode Island is also No. 20.
Saturday's game will be available via UMass' All-Access streaming video package 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 Collins.
The Minutemen are seeking to move to 8-2 for the second year in a row after a 24-9 season in 2006-07 which saw them advance to the NIT Second Round.
UMass Wins Comm. Classic For First Time Since `99
UMass' athletic teams have had great success against Boston College athletic teams in the 2007 calendar year. The Minutemen and Minutewomen have posted a 10-2-1 record against BC in 10 different sports. Most notably, UMass' men's soccer team, which is playing in the NCAA College Cup this weekend, 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 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
UMass is playing its second MAC school this season. The Minutemen beat Northern Illinois, 102-87, on Nov. 10 as part of the BTI Tip-Off Tournament. Against MAC schools, UMass is 4-3: Buffalo (1-0), Eastern Michigan (1-0), Kent State (0-2), Northern Illinois (1-0), Ohio (1-0), Toledo (0-2).
Scoring, More and More
With the new offense, UMass is scoring a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 88.0 points per game, up from 74.9 points (+13.1) through nine games last season and 77.3 points (+10.7) from the entire season.
UMass is sixth in the NCAA in scoring through Thursday, Dec. 14 with 88.0. The Minutemen also lead the Atlantic 10 scoring. VMI leads the nation with a 98.6 average. Right ahead of UMass are Mississippi (89.9), North Carolina (89.9), Oregon (89.7) and Tennessee (88.7).
UMass is one of two teams in the nation with two players in the Top 40 NCAA scoring leaders as of Dec. 14 with Gary Forbes standing 25th with a 21.2 average. Ricky Harris is 38th with 20.2 per game. The other team on the exclusive list is North Dakota State.
UMass is 22nd in total 3-pointers made with 88. With 9.9 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10 and is 11th in the NCAA in 3s per game.
Showing Major Improvement
Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 20.2 points per game after just 4.5 last season as a freshman. He played in 32 games, all off the bench, but has started all nine games this season. Harris has 182 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 in scoring improvement at +15.7 points per game. Harris has scored in double-figures in all nine games this season with a career-high 25 on two occassions (at Syracuse and at Boston College). 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 12.3 points in nine starts after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 111 points in the first eight 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. Brower has more than 12 points in six of eight games in 07-08 after his season high was just eight last year. His +9.4 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Wis.-Green Bay.
Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in three games this season. He had his 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 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds. An increase of 5.7 points and 2.2 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 5.8 per game and has made 12-of-24 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
UMass Continues Home Dominance
The Minutemen went 12-2 at home last season playing before an average of nearly than 6,000 fans per game at the Mullins Center, including a sellout of 9,493 for the Boston College game on Dec. 2. that UMass had its second crowd of more than 9,000 this year with 9,088 against Saint Louis on Feb. 24. This season marks the first since 1998-99 UMass has had two crowds of more than 9,000 in the same season. The Saint Louis crowd was the largest for an A-10 game, since a sell-out of 9,493 against Temple on Feb. 17, 2001. With an average of 5,968 UMass had its best attendance since 1998-99 when an average of 6,723 came to the Mullins Center. UMass is fourth in the league in attendance.
Ford-Tough At Home
Among The A-10 Leaders
Ricky Harris leads in steals per game with 2.8, which is 14th in the NCAA. Harris is also fourth in scoring with a 20.2 average.
Chris Lowe is now healthy and has returned to his usual form and place amongst the leaders when it comes to point guards. He is third in the league in assists per game with 5.6 per game. He is also third in assist-to-turnover ratio with 2.44 per game. Lowe has averaged 7.3 assists over the last four games since returning from an ankle injury.
Lowe is closing in on the all-time assists list at UMass. The man he is chasing is BC Coach Al Skinner. Lowe has 310 helpers in his two-plus seasons. Skinner stands 10th with 320. Ahead of Skinner is Louisville coach Rick Pitino with 329.
Etienne Brower is third in the A-10 and is 37th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage. He is shooting 51.2 from long-range hitting 22-of-43.
Danté Milligan is shooting 64.0 from the floor (32-of-50), but is just shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he eligible, Milligan would rank tied for 25th nationally and second in the Atlantic 10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 64.0, an improvement of 14.6 percent.
Juicy 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 ties 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.
More On The Orange Crush
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 his A-10 leading scoring average of 23 points. Forbes also had seven assists and six rebounds in what Travis Ford called his best game at UMass.
Point guard Chris Lowe returned to action after sitting for 14 days of game-action and had 13 points and a career-high tying nine assists.
UMass shot 52 percent from the floor including 14-of-31 from 3-point range. Etienne Brower, who ranks second in the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage made 4-of-6 from trey-range.
Danté Milligan continued to show he can be a force with his second career-high 17-point game in the last three games. Milligan also equalled his Yale game, two weeks prior, with an 8-of-9 showing from the floor.
Forbes Nov. 18 A-10 Co-Player of the Week
25 Is Twice As Nice
UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off
Additionally, UMass will have two games televised by other outlets as the Jan. 23 game at Saint Joseph's will be on CN8 with a new 6 p.m. start time while the Jan. 19 will be on MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) with a new 4 p.m. start.
Here are UMass' game changes and updates in terms of times and television for the remainder of the season.
2006-07 A Season To Remember
2006-07 Mass Co-A-10 Champions
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.
Lasme, Freeman Gain Honors
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.
Lasme and Freeman were named to the NABC All-District First Team and USBWA All-District First Team.
UMass' 20-Win Season
UMass picked up its 20th win of the season on Feb. 21, 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 with a 35-2 record the Final Four season of 1995-96.
It 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.
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