UMass Goes For 5th Straight Win As CCSU Visits Mullins
• The UMass men’s basketball team goes for its fifth straight win on Friday night as Central Connecticut State visits the Mullins Center for the final non-conference match-up of the season. The Minutemen are looking to avenge a 92-63 loss to the Blue Devils last season in New Britain.
• UMass is currently undefeated in home games with a perfect 6-0 record. Five of those wins have come in the Mullins Center, while one was at the Curry Hicks Cage in the season-opener against Elon.
• Friday’s match-up will see the Minutemen try to contain one of the country’s top scoring threats in CCSU’s Ken Horton. With a 22.5 point per game average, Horton ranks 3rd nationally in scoring.
• Raphiael Putney looks to continue his stretch of strong play as he enters the game averaging 11.6 points and nearly 4 rebounds over the last three games. UMass is 6-1 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 Friday as UMass is averaging 34 points off the bench compared to almost 10 for Central Connecticut. While UMass has just one player averaging double-figures in scoring (Chaz Williams), the Blue Devils have three including Horton and Kyle Vinales who both average over 20 points per game.
• 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 CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE
• Friday marks the 10th all-time meeting between UMass and Central Connecticut State with the Minutemen leading the overall series, 5-4. The Blue Devils, however,won last season’s meeting in New Britain 92-63 thanks in part to three players scoring over 20 points each and a 33-9 opening nine minutes of the game for CCSU.
• This will be the first meeting against Central Connecticut at the Mullins Center since a 79-55 win for UMass on Dec. 22, 2007. Five players scored in double-figures for UMass, while the Minutemen had a total of 18 blocked shots - the most since 1995.
• CCSU won the first meeting between the two clubs 68-47 on March 13, 1950 in the NAIA Tournament. That game was played in New Britain as UMass’ first postseason game.
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 14.5 points and 6.2 assists in 13 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 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.
• 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 24.0 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 13 games, UMass has shot .415 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. Freddie Riley and Javorn Farrell have given the Minutemen lifts as the first subs into the line-up over the last four games. The duo is averaging 10.4 and 6.4 points, respectively. Farrell is 2.5 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal in those games.
• Over the last five games, Freddie Riley has shot 14-of-29 (.483) from beyond the arc - more than double the amount of makes for any other UMass player.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
• UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging just over 41 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 with 41.2 and 9th nationally.
UMASS ONE OF A-10’S TOP SCORING TEAMS
• At an average clip of 75.6 points per game, UMass is the top ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10. The Minutemen are one of seven teams in the league to average over 70 points per game.
• UMass is also the third-ranked team in the league in terms of scoring margin at +8.1 over opponents. Saint Louis and La Salle are the only two teams to have margins higher than 10 points.
BEST HOME START SINCE 2007-08 SEASON
• With a 6-0 home record to start the season (5-0 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).
• 43.9% (432-of-983 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 10 games won this year, UMass is 95-of-249 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 almost 18 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 9 in the three losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up nearly 7 assists in wins, but just 3.3 in each of the three losses.
BALANCED SCORING AMONG UMASS ROTATION
• While Chaz Williams may be the only Minuteman averaging double-figures in the scoring column this season, UMass is a well balanced scoring team. In four games this season, UMass has had four players reach double-figure point totals, while in two games, five Minutemen scored 10-or-more points.
• Against Utah and Davidson, five Minutemen reached double-figures in the scoring column.
• Against Siena, Williams and Freddie each scored over 20 points in the comeback win.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 13 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 7.0 points in 20.8 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 8.8 points and is averaging nearly one more rebound per game (3.0-to-3.8).
• 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 8.2 points in just over 25 minutes per game.