UMass Looks TO Keep Home Success Going As Davidson Visits Thursday
• UMass looks to stay undefeated at home on Thursday night as Davidson visits the Mullins Center for the first time since 2004. The Minutemen enter the game on a three-game win streak and are 5-0 in home games (4-0 at the Mullins Center) this season, while the Wildcats are coming off a big win at No. 12 Kansas on Monday night.
• Since the two programs first met in 1982, four of the seven meetings have been decided by 3-of-fewer points including Davidson’s 63-61 win at home over UMass in 2009 - the last meeting between the two teams.
• Thursday’s match-up will feature a pair of conference scoring leaders as UMass averages 75.8 points per game to lead the Atlantic 10 and Davidson leads the Southern Conference averaging 77.4 points per game. UMass holds an advantage on the glass ranking 7th nationally in rebounds per game, but Davidson is ranked 3rd nationally in free throw shooting percentage.
• Raphiael Putney looks to continue his stretch of strong play as he enters the game averaging 12.5 points and 5 rebounds over the last two games. UMass is 5-1 this year when the forward hits double-figures in the scoring column.
• Depth will likely be one of the biggest factors in the game on Thursday as UMass is averaging 34.3 points off the bench compared to 19.6 for the Wildcats.
• The game can be heard on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM KIX in Western Mass. and 830 AM WCRN in Central Mass., and 95.9 AM WATD on Boston’s South Shore. “Voice of the Minutemen” Josh Maurer, Tim Collins, and Glenn Wong will call the action. Live audio and Gameracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES WITH DAVIDSON
• Thursday marks the eighth all-time meeting between UMass and Davidson on the hardwood. Davidson won the last meeting 63-61 in 2009 in North Carolina. The win gave the Wildcats the narrow edge in the series, 4-3. The last time the teams played in the Mullins Center was a 70-67 UMass win on Dec. 19, 2004. At that game in 2004, UMass greeted its 1,000,000th fan to come through the Mullins Center turnstiles - Amherst’s own Zachary Gabor.
GOOD AS ADVERTISED
• Redshirt sophomore point guard Chaz Williams has been given the reponsibility of quarterbacking the Minutemen’s new up-tempo offense and the tranfer from Hofstra lived up to the billing, averaging 14.9 points and 6.2 assists in 12 games. He is shooting 38.8 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 10th nationally in steals with 2.8 per game and 20th nationally with 6.2 assists per game.
• Williams scored a career-high 22 points in the 83-75 loss at Miami (12/3). He also dished out four assists, while raking in four rebounds. He tied his career-high with another 22 points (20 in the second half) in the win over Siena (12/9).
• Williams scored 14 points and tallied 7 assists in the 89-75 win over Utah at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 25. He also had a UMass career-high 5 steals.
• Williams scored a game-high 16 points and dished out five assists with three steals to lead UMass to a 36-point victory over Boston College, the biggest margin of victory ever in the series on Nov. 21.
• Williams recorded the first double-double of his career in Nov. 14’s win over Northeastern, tying career-highs with 20 points and 10 assists. He spurred a key UMass run in the second half with an assist on a fastbreak followed immediately by a pair of lay-ups of his own on the break.
• Williams, in his first game in a UMass uniform in the win over Elon, led all scorers with 18 points to go with a game-high eight assists, six rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes.
BRINGING THE PRESSURE
• To go with the new up-tempo offense, Derek Kellogg has the Minutemen pressing and trapping more on defense in 2011-12. The new attacking defensive style has worked extremely well thus far as the Minutemen have forced an average of 19.0 turnovers per game and scored 24.4 points per game off those take-aways.
• At East Carolina (12/6), UMass had nearly one point per ECU turnover, scoring 15 off 16 Pirates’ miscues.
• In the 83-75 loss at Miami (12/3), the Minutemen forced 11 turnovers, while scoring as many points off them.
• The Minutemen forced 19 turnovers and turned it into 31 points in their lone win at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 25.
• In its 36-point win at Boston College on Nov. 21, UMass turned 23 Eagles turnovers into 28 points and outscored them 28-6 over the final 10:30 of the game.
• In the win vs. Northeastern (11/14), UMass forced 21 turnovers and scored 26 points off turnovers. Sampson Carter led the defense with three steals.
• The Minutemen held the Huskies to just 38 percent shooting in the game, including a 9.1 percent mark from behind the arc.
• In the opener vs. Elon, UMass forced 25 Phoenix turnovers and scoring 34 points off those turnovers, including 12 fast-break points. Jesse Morgan led the defensive charge with a career-high five steals in 17 minutes. UMass finished with 14 steals total.
• Through 12 games, UMass has shot .414 from the floor after posting a .401 shooting percentage a season ago. Much of the improvement can be attributed to the new up-tempo, fastbreaking offense that Derek Kellogg has implemented this season. Taking advantage of the long athletic players on his roster, Kellogg’s offense has resulted in higher percentage shots in transition.
• UMass has received strong shooting performances from the bench in the past few games. Leading the secondary players is Cady Lalanne who shoots 55 percent from the field and has contributed 80 points so far this season.
• Over the last five games, Freddie Riley has shot 21-of-43 (.490) including 15-of-30 (.500) from beyond the arc. That has translated into a 12.2 point per game average for the junior sharp-shooter.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
• UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging nearly 42 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 with 41.8 and 7th nationally.
UMASS ONE OF A-10’S TOP SCORING TEAMS
• At an average clip of 75.8 points per game, UMass is the top ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10. Only four A-10 teams are averaging below 70 points this season.
• UMass is also the fourth-ranked team in the league in terms of scoring margin at +8.1 over opponents. Saint Louis and La Salle are the only three teams to have margins higher than 10 points.
BEST HOME START SINCE 2007-08 SEASON
• With a 5-0 home record to start the season (4-0 at Mullins, 1-0 at The Cage), since starting 6-0 in 2007-08. That season, UMass finished with an 11-3 home record during the regular season en route to the NIT Championship Game.
DEPTH OFF THE BENCH KEY
• UMass has received quite a lift from its bench early in the season. A season-high 51 points were scored in the win over Towson thanks to the reserves. All told, the UMass bench has outscored every opponent this year except one (College of Charleston).
• 45.0% (402-of-910 points) of UMass’ scoring this year has come from the bench.
OUTSIDE SHOOTING+PROTECT THE BALL=WIN
• It’s a simple formula, but when UMass is able to shoot the ball from outside and keep turnovers to a minimum, chances are the Minutemen win. In 9 games won this year, UMass is 87-of-233 from three-point land and average 13.9 turnovers per game. In 3 games lost, UMass is just 13-of-75 from deep and average 17 turnovers.
• Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average just over 18 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 9 in the three losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up over 7 assists in wins, but just 3.3 in each of the three losses.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 12 games, a trio of players have made significant strides over their 2010-11 averages.
• Jesse Morgan played in just 12 games last season averaging 4.4 points in almost 11 minutes per game. This year, the combo point guard/two guard is averaging 6.4 points in 20.4 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 8.7 points and is averaging one more rebound per game (3.0-to-4.0)
• After having a strong freshman campaign in 2009-10, Terrell Vinson saw his scoring dip from 9.6 poings per game to 6.5 last season. This year he is back to form averaging 8.5 points in just over 25 minutes per game.