Men's Basketball

Red-Hot UMass Closes 2008 At Houston, Tuesday

Chris Lowe is tied for 13th in the NCAA (with Ty Lawson) in assists with 6.6.

Chris Lowe is tied for 13th in the NCAA (with Ty Lawson) in assists with 6.6.

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UMASS (5-6) at HOUSTON (7-2)
Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008 ? 2 p.m. (ET)/1 p.m. (CT)
Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479), Houston, Texas
Streaming Video:
Radio: WRNX (100.9 FM - Flagship)
WCRN (830)

Red-Hot UMass Closes 2008 At Houston, Tuesday
? The team which UMass opened its memorable 2008 year with is the same team the Minutemen will finish the year with. UMass travels to Houston to take on the Cougars for the final game of the calendar year as the team will tip off at 2 p.m (ET)/1 p.m. (CT). The game time was moved earlier to accommodate Houston¹s football team playing in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday at 11 a.m., allowing Cougars fans to attend both games easily. The Minutemen¹s eventful 2008 featured a run to the NIT Finals last April and the hiring of native son and four-time A-10 Champion Derek Kellogg later that month.

? UMass is riding a four-game win streak which raised their record to 5-6 overall under first-year head coach Derek Kellogg. Houston had its seven-game winning streak broken on Sunday night as the Cougars lost to Iowa State, 71-67 at Hofheinz Pavilion.

? Following Tuesday¹s game, the lone road game in a span of four of five games at home, UMass will return home to host Vanderbilt on Saturday at 5 p.m. That game is a special one as it is the Jack Leaman Legacy Game, where proceeds from the ticket sales go to benefit the Leaman Legacy Fund, to benefit scholarships. Saturday will also be 1960s Night as part of the 100 Seasons of UMass Basketball Celebration. More than 25 former players from the decade are expected to attend. Tip-off is just after 5 p.m. in the nationally-televised game on CBS College Sports.

? After the Vanderbilt game, UMass will play a home game at the MassMutual Center in Springfield against Dayton on Jan. 10 to open the Atlantic 10 portion of its schedule. That game has been moved to a 1 p.m. start and will televised locally on CBS3 Springfield.

? This road game comes in the middle of UMass hosting a stretch of five of seven games in Amherst, starting with the Boston College game on Dec. 6 until the Vanderbilt game on Jan. 3. If you include the Jan. 10 game against Dayton in Springfield (which will be counted as a home game), UMass has a run of seven of 10 games at the Mullins Center until Jan. 17. The Hofstra game on Dec. 20 began six straight Saturdays of home games until Jan. 24 against La Salle.

? Tuesday¹s game can be heard on the UMass Sports Network across the state. Flagship station WRNX 100.9 (Springfield) and 830 AM WCRN in Worcester. ³Voice of the Minutemen² Josh Maurer, will call the action with Tim Kenney and former Minuteman Tim Collins.

Minutemen Clicking In Four-game Win Streak
? After a slow 1-6 start, UMass has kicked it into gear winning four in a row. There are some distinct statistics that show UMass marked improvement.

? In scoring, UMass is posting 73.8 points per game and allowing just 64.2 points per game. Prior to the win streak in the six-game losing run, UMass was scoring 68.2 and allowing 76.8 per game. UMass has taken it scoring margin from -8.6 to +9.6.

? From the floor, UMass is doing the job on both offense and defense. In the last four games, UMass is shooting 47.9 from the floor overall and a sparkling 44.0 from new 3-point line. On defense, UMass is holding foes to 37.3 from the floor and a tremendous 26.8 from beyond the arc. Prior to the win streak in the losing run, UMass shot 41.1 from the floor and 34.5 from 3-point land. On defense, the Minutemen allowed foes to 46.6 overall and 36.0 from the trifecta circle.

? Some other key stats. Turnovers are down from 19.7 in the 6-game skid to 14.5 in the last four games. UMass has also handed out 18.8 assists per game compared to 11.8 in the losing games. That is keyed by Chris Lowe who has 10 or more assists in four of the last five games. UMass has taken its assists-to-turnover ratio from -0.6 in the losing skid to +1.3 in the winning games.

? Overall, the players scoring averages are similar for the most part with two major differences, Matt Glass, who was inserted into the starting line-up four games ago -- the start of the win streak -- is scoring 7.3 per game after just 1.8 in the 6-game skid. Also, Luke Bonner has returned with 10.0 additional points after being hurt during the 6-game losing run.

Last Year¹s UMass-Houston Meeting
? After scoring just one point in the first half, Etienne Brower scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the second half to lead UMass (11-2) to a 95-89 victory over Houston (11-1) on Jan. 2, 2008 in a matchup of up-tempo teams at the Mullins Center. Gary Forbes led all scorers with 19 points. Chris Lowe tallied 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting and Ricky Harris rounded out the four Minutemen in double-figures with 16 points and five assists. UMass trailed by as many as 13 late in the first half, but used an early second half run fueled by the energized home crowd to make the comeback.

? The Minutemen struggled to find their shooting touch early, connecting on five of their first 17 shots, including 2-for-11 from 3-point range, while falling behind, 18-14, 8:42 into the game. A Luke Bonner 3-point play pulled UMass to within one, 23-22, with 9:15 left, but the Cougars then went on a 8-1 run over a 41 second span to take a 31-23 lead. Two straight Forbes layups and a Papa Lo block ended the run, but Houston would outscore UMass, 17-10, over the final 6:35 of the half to send the Minutemen to the locker room down, 48-37.

? UMass was 14-for-35 (40.0%) from the floor in the first half, including 3-for-15 from 3-point range. Houston shot 18-for-34 (52.9%) and was 2-for-7 from behind the arc. The Cougars held a 22-19 advantage on the glass in the opening 20 minutes. Lowe led the Minutemen with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and Forbes added seven first half points. Houston was paced by Tafari Toney and Robert McKiver with 10 points each.

Houston-UMass Series Notes
? UMass and Houston are playing the second of a home-and-home series after starting the series last season for the first-ever meeting between the teams.

? UMass head coach Derek Kellogg has coached against the Cougars many times as an assistant coach under John Calipari for the last eight seasons at Memphis, a fellow Conference USA foe. During Kellogg¹s time at Memphis, the Tigers were 13-3 against Houston including a 5-1 mark at Hofheinz Pavilion since 2000.

? Houston coach Tom Penders is no stranger to UMass. He has coached at three Atlantic 10 schools in Fordham (1979-86 < they were not in the A-10 during his tenture), Rhode Island (1986-88) and George Washington (1998-2001). All-time against the Minutemen, Penders is 7-5 after last season¹s loss at UMass. He was 1-0 at Fordham winning in 1982, 4-1 at Rhode Island and 2-3 with GW.

? Against schools from the current Conference USA, UMass is 7-5 (1-0 vs. Houston, 1-1 vs. Memphis, 3-3 vs. Marshall, 1-0 vs. Central Florida, 1-0 vs. Tulsa and 0-1 vs. UAB). Earlier this season, UMass lost at Memphis, the defending Conference USA Champion, 80-58 on Nov. 17 at the FedEx Forum. Prior to last season¹s game vs. the Cougars, the last game vs. a CUSA team was an 86-77 loss to UAB in the final Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 25, 2004 in Springfield, Mass.

? Houston is 28-39 against Atlantic 10 teams, with the big chunk coming against former CUSA foes Saint Louis (12-24) and Charlotte (2-10).

Gaffney Among The National Leaders
? With his amazing start this season, UMass senior forward Tony Gaffney is ranked in the Top 5 in the NCAA in two major statistics. He is fifth in the country in rebounding with 11.9 per game. He is also second in blocked shots per game with 5.1. Gaffney is averaging a double-double with a 11.9 scoring average. Coming into the year, Gaffney¹s career averages were 3.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Gaffney is tied for 35th in steals per game with 2.4 per game.

? Gaffney is off to an amazing start in his senior season averaging a double-double with six double-doubles this season after none in his career in 81 games entering the season. He also had grabbed at least eight rebounds in 10 of 11 games and at least 11 in eight of the 11 games. His most recent double-double came in the win over IUPUI (12/27).

? Gaffney nearly had triple-doubles in back-to-back games on Dec. 6 and 10. In those contests he has a combined 32 points, 29 rebounds and 17 blocks. Against Holy Cross, (12/10), he had 17 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. That followed a titanic effort vs. Boston College (12/6) with 15 points, 18 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots. At #25/23 Kansas (12/13), he posted 13 rebounds and six blocks.

? Some of Gaffney¹s best performances of 2008-09 have come against national powers. One came against Boston College when he had 15 points, 18 rebounds, and a career-high nine blocked shots. His put-back of a missed Chris Lowe free throw sent the game to overtime, giving UMass a chance for its second-straight win over BC. His other outstanding game came at Memphis (11/17), one which Memphis John Calipari called him the best player on the court. Against the No. 13 Tigers, Gaffney scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds along with five blocks. It was his second career double-double. He opened the year with 16 points and 13 rebounds against Arkansas-Monticello (11/11).

? Gaffney played 32 or more minutes in the first nine games, all more than any game he previously played at UMass. He set a career-high in minutes, playing 43 of the 45 against the Eagles. He played a then career-high 39 minutes when he had his third double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds along with eight blocked shots vs. Jacksonville State (11/24) in the home opener. The 20 points were also a UMass high. He scored 20 while at Boston University against Stony Brook in 2006.

Lowe Moving Up Assists Chart
? Chris Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass as he stands third with 557, just 76 shy of the all-time record. His 11 assists against Boston College (12/6) propelled him past Alex Eldridge (518) and into third place. Next on the list is Edgar Padilla (597). Carl Smith (633) is the all-time leader. In the final 18 regular-season games, Lowe would need to average 4.3 assists to get the record before any possible postseason.

? Lowe is tied with UNC¹s Ty Lawson in the NCAA with 6.6 assists per game, leading the A-10. He has led the league in assists in each of the last two years and would become the first player to lead the A-10 in assists for three years in a row.

? Lowe has five 10-assist games this season and 11 in his career, all in the last two seasons (all in the last 24 games). With 10 assists in each of the last two games vs. Hofstra (12/20) and IUPUI (12/27), Lowe has 46 assists in the last five games (9.2 per game). He has 10 or more in four of those five games with 12 vs. Holy Cross (12/10) and 11 against Boston College (12/6). That total of 46 cames after he had 15 total in the previous five games. Lowe became the fourth player with 500 career assists at UMass after he gained five against Jacksonville State (11/24). He passed his coach Derek Kellogg (453) most recently at the end of last year.

? With a career-high 14 against La Salle (3/5/08) - part of the sixth triple-double in UMass history (14 pts, 10 reb), 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).

? With his 214 assists last season, Lowe had 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 become the all-time career assist leader Smith (633).

Harris Hits 1,000th career point
? Ricky Harris became the 40th UMass player to score 1,000 career points on a free throw with 9:50 left in the first half against Hofstra (12/20). In 79 college games, Harris has 1,028 points to rank 37th is UMass history.

? He tallied 23 in the win over IUPUI and has 115 in his last five games (23.0 PPG) including a career-high 35 against Boston College (12/6) and 23 vs. Holy Cross (12/10). Prior to Harris, the last UMass player to reach the plateau was Gary Forbes (vs. La Salle on March 5, 2008), who did it in his two seasons with UMass as he finished his career with 1,128 in 69 games. Forbes is playing with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA¹s D-League.

? Next on the list for Harris to pass are No. 36 Derick Claiborne (1,033), No. 35 David Brown (1,037), No. 34 Charlton Clarke (1,041), No. 33 Dana Dingle (1,043) and No. 32 Alex Eldridge (1,053).

? Harris has picked up where he left off last season, when he was named the A-10 Chris Daniels Most Improved player. Harris is leading UMass with a 20.6 scoring average and led the team in scoring in eight of the first 11 games. Harris is 23rd in the NCAA in scoring per game. He dropped a season and career-high 35 points on BC (12/6). The 35 points were good for the 13th most in school history and only six behind the school record of 41 held by Billy Tindall on Feb. 10, 1968 vs. Vermont. It was also Harris¹ second ever 30+ point scoring effort. Two games prior, he netted 27 at Green Bay (11/29) and had 24 points at Southern Illinois (11/12).

Harris Rises on 3-Point Charts
? Junior Ricky Harris has also continued to blister from 3-point range. In 11 games, he is shooting 42.5 from beyond the new extended-distance arc. He has made 37-of-87 from 3-point range.

? Harris who tied Carmelo Travieso for the single-season mark for made treys last year with 104, is rising on the career charts. Harris stands sixth in career made 3-pointers with 158 and fifth in career attempts with 432. With four treys at Green Bay, he passed Edgar Padilla (136) and his coach Derek Kellogg (138). Next on the list at No. 5 is Lorenzo Sutton (178). On the attempts list, Harris is fifth pass Sutton(424, James Life (425) and Edgar Padilla (431) after passing Kellogg (362) earlier this season.

UMass 5-1 Vs Defending NCAA Champs
? With the 61-60 over #25/23 Kansas (12/13), UMass is now 5-1 all-time against defending national champions, as the Minutemen have won three in a row against the champs. With last year¹s win over Florida in the NIT Semifinals, UMass has beaten the last two NCAA champs in their title defense year.

? UMass head coach Derek Kellogg has been a part of three of the wins over the champ as a player in 1993 and 1994 and the head coach in 2008 vs. Kansas.

? On Dec. 9, 2004 as the Minutemen downed No. 7 UConn at the Mullins Center, 61-59 as Rashaun Freeman scored with seconds left to lift UMass to the historic win. The game marked the first time a defending champion visited the Mullins Center.

? UMass knocked off North Carolina, 91-86, in overtime on Nov. 24, 1993 in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden.

? One year later, UMass thumped Arkansas, 104-80, on Nov. 25, 1994 in the Tip-Off Classic at the Springfield Civic Center.

? That win over No. 1 Arkansas is symbolic, as it vaulted UMass to the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll for the first time in school history. Last week was the 14-year anniversary of the school¹s first No. 1 ranking, as the Minutemen played their first game as the No. 1 team on Dec. 3, 1994.

? UMass¹ only loss against a champ came on Nov. 22, 1999, as the Minutemen lost to UConn at Gampel Pavilion, 79-65, on Nov. 22, 1999.

Notes On UMass¹ Win Over Kansas
? UMass topped No. 25/23 Kansas, 61-60 on Dec. 13 in Kansas City. The UMass win was its first in 17 tries against a non-conference ranked team outside the state of Massachusetts. The win ended Kansas¹ 30-game home win streak (the game at KC was counted officially by the NCAA as a home game since it was part of the season-ticket package and was staffed by KU).

? UMass won a non-conference game against a ranked team, away from Massachusetts for the first time since it beat Georgetown in the 1996 NCAA Elite Eight on March 23, 1996.

? For head coach Derek Kellogg the win was sweet as his Minutemen picked up their first win over a ranked team under his watch in just his ninth game as a head coach. The previous fastest UMass coach to beat a ranked team was Bruiser Flint, who beat then-No. 19 Boston College in his 17th game as the head man on Jan. 18, 1997. Kellogg also gained a win against Kansas, the team which downed Memphis in the 2008 NCAA title game when Kellogg was an assistant for former UMass coach John Calipari.

? UMass beat a non-conference ranked team on the road for the first time since win at #21 Louisville on March 2, 1996, 62-59.

? UMass beat a non-conference ranked team for the first time since topping UConn, 61-59, on Dec. 9, 2004. Since that game, UMass is 4-7 against ranked teams (1-1 this season, losing at Memphis).

? UMass last beat a ranked team at #14 Dayton on the road last season, 82-71 on Jan. 16, 2008.

? The Minutemen have won the last two games against Kansas, winning at the Mullins Center in 1999. All-time Kansas leads the series, 3-2. All five games have been played in different states (New York, California, Kansas, Massachusetts and Missouri).

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 was set at Boston College game on Dec. 6 which honored the Classic Era (1899-1959).

? The following players were on hand for the BC game: Don Akerson, Frank Barous, George ³Trigger² Burke, John Edgar, Dick Eid, Wray Gunn, Paul Kollios, Ned Larkin, John MacLeod, Condon McDonough, Ed McGrath, George Morin, Alex Norskey, Bill Prevey, Bill Stephens and William Walsh.

? 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 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 to 1915-16 and during World War II in both 1943-44 and 1944-45.

? 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 UMass¹ 10th NIT appearance including each of the last two season.

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.

UMass 6th; Harris & Lowe Honored
? UMass was picked sixth in the preseason poll released by the Atlantic 10 coaches and media on Oct. 29 as part of the league¹s media day. Senior 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. Lindy¹s and Athlon both predict UMass to finish in the top five in the Atlantic 10.

? Lindy¹s predicts that the Minutemen will finish fourth behind St. Joseph¹s, Temple, and Xavier. It mentions the good news as ³Derek Kellogg returns to his alma mater and has plenty of perimeter firepower.² Lindy¹s includes Harris on the First Team All-Conference while recognizing Chris Lowe with ³Top Playmaker² in its honor roll.

? Athlon sports predict that the Minutemen will finish fifth, trailing Xavier, Temple, Charlotte, and Dayton, while earning their third-consecutive NIT berth. Like Lindy¹s, 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 ³Wake Forest transfer Anthony Gurley should give Kellogg another wing scorer.

? Sporting News wrote that with Gibbs on board (to go along Lowe, a senior), ³the Minutemen should be able to play at breakneck speed.² It predicts that the best shot-blocker in the conference will once again come from UMass (Tony Gaffney), while Lowe is deemed the ³best passer.² Sporting News identifies three-point shooting as a big asset as ³Together, Harris and Gurley give UMass a pair of solid three-point threats.²

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

UMass Back To National Prominence
? After a 2006-07 season which included the program¹s first postseason appearance since 2000, the Minutemen headed into the 2007-08 campaign with high expectations. UMass finished with a 25-11 record good for its second-consecutive season with at least 24 victories.

? The team would not disappoint as it used a magical postseason run to reach the NIT Finals, highlighted by topping the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome in the quarterfinals while beating defending National Champion Florida at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals. UMass eventually succumbed to Ohio State in a hard-fought finals game, 92-85.

? The Minutemen had two six-game winning streaks (Dec. 18 through Jan. 2 and Feb. 17 through Mar. 8) along with the four-game streak in the NIT (Mar. 18 to April 1).

? The Minutemen picked up their 20th win of the season on March 5 with the 100-63 win over La Salle. It marked the 14th time in history that UMass reached the mark and second year in a row after going 24-9 in 2006-07. The last time UMass won 20 in back to back seasons was 1994-95 (29-5) and 1995-96 (35-2).

? With 25 wins, UMass reached the fifth-most wins in school history passing the 2006-07 team (24-9) and the 1992-93 squad (24-9). Fourth on the list is 28 wins set in 1993-94.

? In 2006-07, UMass picked up its 20th win of the season on Feb. 21, 2007 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 with a 35-2 record during the Final Four season of 1995-96.

? In the first round, UMass posted a solid 80-60 win over Southland Conference champion Stephen F. Austin on March 18 at the Mullins Center. Dante Milligan had a career game in UMass¹ NIT First Round win over SFA, as he had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. A-10 Player of the Year Gary Forbes added 19 points and the league¹s Most Improved Player Ricky Harris had 16 points.

Forbes, Harris A-10, Reg. Honors
? UMass senior Gary Forbes was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, giving UMass back-to-back top award winners in the league. In 2006-07, Stephane Lasme, who was drafted by the Golden State Warriors, claimed the league¹s top honor. The last time UMass had consecutive players of the year was in 1995 (Lou Roe) and 1996 (Marcus Camby). Forbes was the fifth overall player of the year from UMass as Harper Williams also took home the honor in 1992.

? Forbes was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team as well as he tied for the league¹s regular-season scoring crown with Temple¹s Dionte Christmas. Both players had 20.3 averages with 610 points in 30 games. Including the postseason, Forbes finished second in the league in scoring with a 19.4 average and fifth in the league in rebounding with 7.5. UMass had two first-teamers in 2006-07 in Lasme and three-time winner Rashaun Freeman.

? Sophomore guard Ricky Harris was named the Atlantic 10 Chris Daniels Most Improved Player of the Year. Harris took his scoring average from 4.5 to 18.2 in his second collegiate season. It was the largest improvement of any player in the league at +13.7. UMass had the three largest jumps as Etienne Brower finished +10.0 and Forbes +6.4. Harris was the first UMass player to win the honor since 2001 when Micah Brand and Kitwana Rhymer shared the MIP.

? Forbes was also named to the NABC and USBWA All-District First Team. It marked the fourth year in a row UMass has had a first-teamer as Lasme and Freeman made it last year and Freeman was honored in 2005 and 2006.




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