No. 23/22 UMass will open a four-game homestand against regional rival Providence at the Mullins Center on Saturday night. Both teams are coming off a one-week break of action with their last games on Dec. 21.
This will mark the second-consecutive year the teams have played. UMass claimed a 77-75 win in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip Off last season on a buzzer-beating tip-in by graduated senior Terrell Vinson.
The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU and available online via WatchESPN (http://es.pn/MBK-PROVvsUMASS).
Fans can also listen to the UMass Sports Network broadcast (105.5 WEEI in western Mass.) or on mobile devices with the Tune In app.
This is the 105th season of UMass Basketball. UMass has an all-time record of 1,217-1,072 (.532) in 2,289 games. UMass is 448-308 (.593) in conference games, including a 284-288 in Atlantic 10 play. The Minutemen have claimed 15 regular-season conference championships and five tournament titles.
The 2013-14 season marks the sixth 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 (1996-97), 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, 25 and 21 last season with a second-consecutive NIT appearance.
GENERAL RPI/SOS NOTES
As we get ready to turn the calendar, a check of the various RPI numbers shows UMass is ranked No. 2 by CBS Sports, RealTimeRPI.com, ESPN Insider RPI and StatSheet.com, No. 13 by Jeff Sagarin and No. 20 by Ken Pomeroy
The Minutemen's strength of schedule is No. 1 by ESPN, No. 4 by CBS and RealTime RPI, No. 8 by Stat Sheet, No. 13 by Jeff Sagarin and No. 34 by Ken Pomeroy.
SERIES HISTORY WITH PROVIDENCE & THE BIG EAST
UMass and Providence will be meeting for the 29th time as the Friars hold a 22-6 series lead. The teams played at least once every year from 1962-80 with the majority of those contests in the Yankee Conference.
UMass claimed last season's matchup, 77-75, in the Puerto Rico Tip Off on a Terrell Vinson tip-in at the buzzer. UMass shot 51 percent and outscored PC 7-2 in the final 2:01. The rally was necessary when the Friars erased an eight-point second half margin and went ahead via a 13-4 run with a 3-pointer at the 8:52 mark. PC made just two baskets in the final six minutes but was 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
Prior to last year's game, PC had won the last two games, claiming a 61-60 overtime win in Providence in 1999 and a 85-70 outcome in Amherst in 2000. The Friars had won four straight in the series with UMass' last win on Jan. 13, 1979.
The Friars won the initial contest, 36-21, on Mar. 1, 1932 in Amherst.
UMass has compiled an 25-62 record against teams currently in the Big East Conference. The Minutemen are 0-1 vs. Butler, 3-1 vs. DePaul, 1-1 vs. Georgetown, 0-2 vs. Marquette, 6-22 vs. Providence, 0-8 vs. St. John's, 3-2 vs. Seton Hall, 2-12 vs. Villanova and 10-13 vs. Xavier. UMass has not faced Creighton.
10-GAME WIN STREAK TIED FOR 11TH IN UMASS HISTORY
UMass' season-opening 10-game winning streak is the 11-longest in school history - the longest in more than 15 years and longest stretch in the Derek Kellogg era.
BEST STARTS IN UMASS HISTORY
Despite the loss to Florida State last Saturday, the 10-0 start is the fourth-best start in program history.
Back in 1995-96, the Minutemen started with a school-record 26 consecutive wins on their way to a 35-2 season and an NCAA Final Four appearance.
Here are the best starts at UMass: 1995-96 (26-0); 1933-34 (12-0 undefeated season); 1970-71 (11-0); 2012-13 (10-0); 1973-74 (9-0); 1925-26 (9-0); 1977-78 (8-0); 2010-11 (7-0); 1968-69 (7-0); 1975-76 (6-0); 1971-72 (6-0); 1956-57 (6-0).
UMASS TOUGH IN THE MULLINS CENTER
UMass is unbeaten in the Mullins Center this year with a 3-0 record. Over the past three campaigns, the Minutemen are 13-1 in regular-season non-conference games in the facility with a current six-game winning streak.
The Minutemen have been strong during the winter break as well, winning their last eight non-league games when the classes are not in session.
UMASS RETURNS TO ASSOCIATED PRESS & COACHES POLLS FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1998
Following last Saturday's 60-55 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, UMass held steady in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, coming in at Nos. 23 and 22, respectively this week. UMass received 154 points in the AP and 142 in the coaches poll.
When the Minutemen debuted in the rankings this season, it ended a drought that dated back to Nov. 1998 in each poll.
UMass has now appeared in the AP Poll 82 times and is 119-30 all-time as a ranked team. The Minutemen have been ranked in the top 10 48 times, the top five 31 times and No. 1 15 times (32-4).
CHAZ IS LIKE A FINE WINE, HE GETS BETTER WITH AGE
Chaz Williams continues to impress with his on-court talents year-in and year-out. While his scoring has been consistently strong throughout his college career, his shooting percentages are at or near all-time highs and his assist-to-turnover numbers are at an all-time high.
Year MPG PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG TPG A/TO Ratio
2009-10 31.7 9.8 .372 .389 .733 4.2 2.5 1.64
2011-12 34.9 16.9 .410 .419 .788 6.2 3.4 1.83
2012-13 35.3 15.5 .433 .333 .785 7.3 3.4 2.12
2013-14 34.1 15.7 .398 .415 .766 7.5 3.2 2.34
He has 15 double-figure assist games in his career and 13 at UMass, two shy of Carl Smith's record set from 1983-87.
CARTER & ESHO PERFORMING AT HIGH LEVELS
Redshirt senior Sampson Carter and redshirt junior Maxie Esho are both making the 2013-14 campaign one to remember.
Carter entered the year averaging 6.1 points per game over 102 appearances, but has played like a senior who wants to go out with a bang. He is scoring a career-best 12.8 ppg, while his shooting averages - .464 FG%, .375 3FG% and .765 FT% - are all career-highs or close to his season best.
Esho, who has been described as the X-factor by head coach Derek Kellogg at times, is producing at a high level with 8.0 ppg and 5.8 rpg, ahead of his previous season benchmarks of 5.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg set last year. He has raised both categories each of the past two seasons and had three-consecutive double-figure scoring games for the first time in his career prior to the Florida State game. He also went off last Tuesday at Ohio with game highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. He became the sixth different Minuteman to lead the team in scoring this season.
UMASS PLAYING WITH A LEAD... A LOT
Part of the UMass formula for success through nine games has been to not fall behind. In 440 minutes, the Minutemen have trailed for a total of 53:11 - just 13.3 pct. of the season.
Furthermore, UMass has used its pressing, attcking style to wear down opponents and pull away in the second half. UMass has only trailed for 14:16 of the second half this year, with 5:46 coming in the opener against BC, 4:40 at Eastern Michigan and 3:50 vs. Florida State. They are outscoring teams by an average of 38.6-33.7 in the first half and 42.6-37.3 in the second half.
SCORING POINTS IN BUNCHES
UMass is averaging 81.3 points per game, which places it first in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 39th nationally. The Minutemen set a school record when they surpassed 80 points in each of their opening five games. They have since accomplished the feat in eight of 11 games.
The Minutemen recorded a season-high 105-point effort against BYU, which also featured a 50-point performance in each half for the first time since Jan. 24, 1995 at Duquesne.
HIGH SHOOTING PCT. A BIG REASON FOR THE WINS
Through 10 games, UMass is shooting .492 percent from the floor. That leads the A-10 and is tied for 28th in the country. UMass has shot better than the opponent in every game and over 43 pct. nine times. The Minutemen are tied for 26th in 3-point field goal pct. at .408.
UMass has shot .555 (96-for-173) from the floor and .482 (27-for-56) from outside over the past three games.
UMASS POSTS TOP SHOOTING GAME OF KELLOGG ERA IN ROAD WIN OVER OHIO
UMass entered last Wednesday's game at Ohio having posted two of its three highest shooting games of the year in its two most recent contests. Going up against an Ohio team that ranked 11th nationally in field goal pct. defense (.372), the Minutemen recorded their best shooting night in more than seven seasons, connecting on .615 (32-for-52) from the floor. Additionally, the .643 (9-for-14) from three-point range was the highest since a .727 performance against Duquesne on Jan. 27, 2000.
GETTING TO THE FREE THROW LINE
UMass is shooting 69.2 percent from the free throw line through 11 games. That figure ranks second in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 169th nationally.
The Minutemen have attempted at least 19 free throws nine times and are just a few games removed from their highest shooting game of the season - 26-of-31 for .839 versus BYU. UMass' season highs for makes (33) and attaempts (43) both came in the win over Nebraska.
GETTING OFFENSIVE ON THE GLASS
One of the stronger parts of the play of UMass through 11 games has been its ability to control the offensive glass, and capitalizing on those opportunities. UMass has averaged 13.8 offensive boards per game and turned those into 15.8 points per contest. The Minutemen have grabbed at least 17 offensive rebs four times overall (season-high 20 in the opener against BC).
One of the biggest beneficiaries has been junior C Cady Lalanne. He leads the team with 51 offensive rebounds (35 percent of the team's 147 this season) and has scored 54 points off them for 4.9 ppg. That is 35 percent of his scoring on the year.
CHAZ DID WHAT?
AND AGAINST THE NO. 9 RPI TEAM IN THE COUNTRY !?!
It's been well documented about Chaz Williams' 32-point, 15-assist, 1-turnover day against BYU in early December. At the end of the day, he was responsible for 66 points out of the 105 for the Minutemen - or 63 percent of the scoring.
Williams is the first Division I player with at least 32 points and 15 assists in a non-OT game in the last 15 seasons. The only other player to reach those totals in a game in that span was Antawn Dobie (LIU) in 2003 in a double-overtime win versus St. Francis (NY).
WILLIAMS PICKS UP A SLEW OF HONORS AFTER CAREER GAME OF 32 POINTS, 15 ASSISTS
Chaz Williams was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for the second time this season after he averaged a double-double with 22.0 points and 11.5 assists in wins at Eastern Michigan and No. 9 RPI-ranked BYU - the Minutemen's first games as a ranked team in 15 years.
He netted 12 points and eight assists in the game at EMU, in UMass' first true road game of the year. Williams came back on Saturday and had a phenomenal game, posting career-highs in points (32) and assists (15), while committing just one turnover. His 32 points are the second-most in the A-10 this season, while his 15 assists tied the school record and are the fourth-most in league history. His assist-to-turnover ratio for the week was 7.7. He shot 52 percent from the floor, 46 percent from outside and was 14-of-15 from the foul line.
He was also named the National Player of the Week by CBS Sports.com, NBC Sports.com and Dick Vitale's PTPer of the Week.
DECEMBER UNDER KELLOGG
UMass is 24-13 (.649) in the month of December under Derek Kellogg and has won 17 of its last 20. The Minutemen had claimed their last eight prior to the 60-55 loss to Florida State last Saturday. UMass has gone 5-1 each of the past two Decembers with both losses to Miami (Fla.).
PROVIDENCE GAME TO SERVE AS BASKETBALL'S CAMPUS SESQUICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION GAME
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863 following the passage of the federal Morrill Act. The year-long anniversary celebration included a series of events for Founders' Week in the Spring of 2013, as well as programs and activities highlighting important historical milestones, events and people.
Last Tuesday's ice hockey game against Denver and the men's basketball game against Providence on Saturday, Dec. 28, will be when those events take part in the celebration.
KELLOGG AMONG UMASS TOP FIVE IN VICTORIES
With 95 victories entering the Providence game, sixth-year head coach Derek Kellogg is in third place on the school's career victories list. Jack Leaman won 217 over 13 seasons and John Calipari is second with 193 over eight years in Amherst.