Men's Basketball

LIVE BLOG: Men's Basketball, UMass at Houston

The jersey of Hakeem Olajuwon hangs in Hofheinz Pavilion as one of five retired numbers.

The jersey of Hakeem Olajuwon hangs in Hofheinz Pavilion as one of five retired numbers.

Dec. 30, 2008

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    Welcome to the LIVE BLOG from Houston, Texas as the Minutemen take on the Cougars this afternoon in a matinee special from the unique Hofheinz Pavilion. Jason Yellin bringing you the action. The game tips off at 2 p.m. ET. The Minutemen seek their fifth win a row and have a chance to even their record at 6-6 win a victory.

    3:45 p.m. Houston proves too much down the stretch as the Minutemen fall, 80-54. UMass quest for its fifth-straight win falls short at it falls to 5-7 on the season.

    Be sure to join us on Saturday, Jan. 3, when the Minutemen return home to kickoff 2009 to host SEC foe Vanderbilt at 5 p.m. The 100 years of UMass basketball celebration will continue that night with the 1960's Celebration and Leaman Legacy Celebration. Many players from the "Redmen" era will be returning to campus and will be honored.

    Enjoy the last day of 2008 and Happy New Year.

    3:34 p.m. Tony Gaffney is up to 15 rebounds his third game with 15 or more this season, he also had 19 at Memphis and 18 vs. BC ... UMass trails 69-52 with 4:15 left in the game ... Gurley up to 17 points for UMass.



    3:28 p.m. Chip, chip, chip, UMass down 17 with 7:45 left (65-48), the Minutemen keep shooting 3's but missing most of them. The Minutemen are up to 14 offensive rebounds, but have just five second-chance points ... That has hurt all game.

    Gurley hit a free throw before the TO, his first point of the second half as he tops UMass with 15. Harris has 11 and Tony Gaffney has passed his average in rebounds with 13, he also has four blocks, one off his mark of 5.1 per game.

    3:24 p.m. Media TO, UMass down by 21, 65-44, 9:14 left in the half. Speaking of comebacks, which is still possible, on the plane ride to Houston, we were working on the video for the Mullins Center/TV Show about the 1994-95 Elite Eight team at UMass ... That season featured one of the best comebacks in history, UMass rallied from down 18 on the road with 4:40 left in regulation to comeback and beat West Virginia in Morgantown, 97-94 in Jan of 1995.

    Its a longshot, but maybe Derek Kellogg can stir up some of that magic. Of course last year, UMass rallied from down 24 at Syracuse in the NIT Quarterfinals ... you never know

    Bonner 3 goes in --- down 18, 65-47.

    3:20 p.m. Kellogg calls his third TO ... its getting pretty bad, UMass down 25 points, 65-40, as the Minutemen are down to 33 percent from the floor, 3-of-14 this half. Lewis has 20 for UH while Calhoun has 19 and Coleman has 16 points and 11 rebounds.

    Tony Gaffney up to 10 rebounds.

    3:15 p.m. Tom Penders calls his first TO of the game. Vance Walberg's jacket is off and UMass is trying to mount a comeback with tenacious defense. UMass is down 17 as Chris Lowe is called for his fourth foul ... Houston can't miss, they are now 6-of-8 this half and lead 59-40 with 13:50 left.

    Lowe goes to bench as Ricky Harris back in. Correia at the point.

    3:10 p.m. Down 19, and and offensive charge called by Chris Lowe, Houston up 55-36. UMass can't buy a shot, the Minutemen are 1-of-6 this half ... Tony Gaffney playing hard again, goes up for a rebounding and forces a jump ball. He is up to eight rebounds. UMass having a tough time with all the UH bigmen.

    The guards are shooting the lights out for UH: Lewis up to 18 points, Calhoun has 17. The Cougars are 21-of-42 from the floor and even 50 percent.

    15:44 left, UH up 55-36.

    3:04 p.m. That was fast, Houston leads by 17 points ... three UMass misses and Houston hitting all three shots with a trey by Q. Calhoun and its 50-33 Cougars, leading UMass to call a timeout just 1:15 into the second half.

    Harris misses two more shots for UMass and its now 2-of-9 from the floor. Coming on the heels of 8-of-12 vs. IUPUI.

    3:02 p.m. Houston will start the lineup that played the final 17 minutes of the half ... so no Desmond Wade, but that didn't hurt the Coogs ... UMass has the same starters.

    2:58 p.m. Key stats from halftime:

    UMass is led by Anthony Gurley with 14, five off his UMass high and 10 off his career-high. Harris has just six points, as he is a rough 2-7 from the floor. Bonner has six as well with a pair of treys. Gaffney has four points, and leads the team in rebounds (6), assists (3), steals (2) and blocks (1).

    Houston has three players -- of the six who have played -- in double-figures led by Kelvin Lewis with 16 points, Q. Coleman has 11 and Aubrey Coleman has 10 and a game-high eight rebounds. Marcus Cousin has four blocks and five rebounds. He has really hurt UMass in the post.

    From the floor, UMass is 13-of-34 (38 percent), 6-of-15 from 3's (40 percent) and 1-2 at the line with 10 turnovers. All three steals, came in the first five minutes.

    The Cougars are 16-of-35 from the floor (46 percent), 3-of-7 from 3's (43 percent) and a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line. They have just six TOs along with six blocks.

    Houston outreboudning UMass 21-19 as big stat is second-chance points, Houston up 9-0.

    Houston has just six turnovers, two in the last 14 minutes after four in the first 6 minutes.

    2:49 p.m. Halftime here in Texas! Houston leads 43-33, which is not much in this game ... Last year UMass trailed by 11 at half 48-37 and won by six 95-89 so the Minutemen know what its like to come back against this team.

    Houston has played just six players and the same lineup: Calhoun, Cousin, Lewis, A. Coleman and Williams since the 17 minute mark when Wade got his second foul.

    On the radio, listen to an interview with Dante Milligan, who was at the UMass-IUPUI game on Saturday. He is playing in Israel right now after stints in Spain and France.

    2:43 p.m. With two fouls Chris Lowe back in the game with 54 seconds left as foul trouble is haunting UMass ... four players with two fouls ... Lowe then gets fouled and misses 1 of 2, Correia replaces him on an offense-defense switch. UMass trails 43-33, 36 seconds left.

    2:39 p.m. Fast paced action the teams are getting up and down the court, similar to last year's 95-89 UMass win at the Mullins Center. UMass trails 34-26 with 3:13 left in the first.

    UMass is just 4-of-13 from 3-pointers after making 27 total in the last two games ... that's just 31 percent today. Tony Gaffney with six rebounds. Anthony Gurley leads with 11 points. Kelvin Lewis for 11 for UH.

    2:32 p.m. Derek Kellogg calls TO with 6:13 as Houston has its biggest lead at 32-22 ... as the TO ends, the UMass score was reset to BLANK. So they had to re-input UMass' score. Instead of just putting in 22, they had to count by 2's 2-4-6-8, etc... to get to 22. Nice!

    Houston called for a foul, finally, it was 8-2 fould before that one...

    Reverse dunk by Gaffney and then a drawn charge by Luke Bonner, UMass trails 32-24 with the ball.

    2:28 p.m. Costly turnovers for UMass as Harris' pass to Gaffney goes out of bounds, media timeout with 7:28 left in the first half, Houston leads 25-19.

    UMass is playing hard, its struggling without point guard Chris Lowe in foul trouble. The point has been manned by Anthony Gurley recently, as well as Gary Corria and David Gibbs. UMass' top assistman right now is Tony Gaffney with three, with some nice passes out of the post.

    UH has played just six bodies as they do on many nights. They have not subbed since Wade went out with two fouls, 3:00 into the game. It has been the same five and it has been successful building a 6-point edge.

    2:25 p.m. As the ball went out of bounds off a UH deflection Calhoun went flying of two seats of seats, jumping and leaping to safe landing ... Gaffney back in with 10:06 left, Houston leads 16-15.

    2:20 p.m. Houston leads 16-13 with 11:53 left in the first.

    UMass has gone cold after a good start to the game, standing at 5-of-15 from the floor after being 4-8 ... Tony Gaffney has four rebounds, but no blocks yet. Tyrell Lynch has entered for the first time for the Minutemen. UH up to 5 TOs, nearly half their game total for this season, in less than a quarter of the game.

    2:15 p.m. Two fouls on Chris Lowe ... both teams will now be without their starting point guards for much of the first half, each with two fouls. Gary Correia enters for the first time for UMass ... Houston takes its first lead at 12-10 on a pair of free throws. 14:00 left in the first.

    UMass has forced UH to three turnovers, the Cougars lead the nation in fewest TO per game at 9.4.

    2:10 p.m. The UMass fans, about 20 of them are the loudest in the joint ... a few Houston students are now starting a D-Fense chant.

    David Gibbs is the first sub fo UMass at 16:59 ... Lowe called for his first foul, all three fouls are on point guards with UH's Wade called for two and now has a seat on the bench with 17 minutes left in the half.

    UMass up 10-7.

    2:04 p.m. Controversy right off the tip as a foul was called when Tony Gaffney was dunking off a pass from Chris Lowe. The 2 points were posted but they should not have been, Tom Penders complained and rightfully so as the foul took place before the ball was passed, so it stood 0-0 .... then Ricky Harris nailed a 3-poiinter for a 3-0 lead.

    2:00 p.m. The National Anthem just finished and we close to tip, the UMass starters come and give the refs some fist pounds.... Houston is being introduced as there are about 1,500 fans in the stands.

    1:53 p.m. Just had a chat with referee Duke Edsall, who is calling the game with Joe Townsell and Frankie Bordeaux. Edsall was the ref standing next to Matt Hill when he tore his Achilles at Memphis earlier this season. Edsall was saying how bad he felt for Derek Kellogg to have just eight players at that point and having to play against Memphis. He asked about Hill if he was here, but told him Hill was done for the year. Edsall is one of the top refs in the nation, who works a lot of ACC and C-USA games.

    1:48 p.m. Starters are in the scorebook as we get closer to tip. 11 minutes on the clock.

    For UMass in maroon jersey and shorts
    At point guard, #14 Chris Lowe with 10 or more assists in four of his last five games.
    At shooting guard, #5 Ricky Harris, leading scorer in 8 of 11 games this year
    At the wing, #12 Anthony Gurley, who tied his career high with six rebounds vs. IUPUI
    At forward, #33 Matt Glass, UMass is 4-0 with him in the starting lineup
    At center, #24 Tony Gaffney, the man with six double-doubles this season.

    For Houston in white trimmer with red
    At point guard, #3 Desmond Wade, freshman with only 19 turnovers in nine games
    At the wing guard, #12 Aubrey Coleman, scored a career-high 28 vs. Iowa State
    At guard, #0 Kelvin Lewis, has four straight 20-point games
    At forward, #41 Qa'rraan Calhoun, had 10 pointsm 9 reb vs. Iowa State
    At center, #50 Marcus Cousin, the senior averaging close to a double-double.

    1:35 p.m. 30 minutes to gametime and more UMass fans have entered the building. A trio of former UMass men's cheerleaders including A.J. Marota who live in San Antonio have made their way accross the state from three hours away to cheer on the Minutemen. So UMass has the cheerleading covered with alums from the 1990s and 2000s to support the team. They are all sitting behind the Minutemen's bench.

    The court is clear as prepare for the contest.

    1:15 p.m.One of the great things about the south and southwest as we are in Texas is Chick-Fil-A. The food here at Hofheinz features the wonderful Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches which are being scarfed up by the UMass support staff and media members. Ummm, ummm, good.

    Athletic trainer Dave Maclutsky has the Minutemen in full stretching mode as they are just 42 minutes from tip-off. He is working the back of Tony Gaffney as the team gets loose after pumping up shots for a while.

    A few more fans have trickled in, not more than a few thousand expected in the cozy confines of this theater-style setting.

    If you are listening on the radio today, we will have a three-man booth as Josh Maurer, the Voice of the Minutemen will be joined by the Tims, Collins and Kenney. Pregame starts at 1:30 p.m.

    12:55 p.m. With the early game time here at Houston, allowing Cougars fans to attend the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth tomorrow morning at 11 a.m., its free admission at Hofheinz. The Cougars only average 3,200 fans per game and not many more are expected with the free admission.

    The first fans to arrive were five UMass fans, led by former cheerleader Kelly Martin, who graduated UMass in 1993 and now lives in Houston. Martin was joined by her family all dressed in UMass maroon. A young boy with them was asked to come down to the court to help grab rebounds for the Minutemen. He is having the time of his life. Martin brought some pictures of her in her UMass cheerleading uniform from when the Minutemen played at the Spectrum in Philadelphia at the Atlantic 10 Tournament in the early 1990s and a game program from the Cage when Derek Kellogg was a freshman. Kellogg gladly autographed the program for her.

    12:30 p.m. In case you missed the list of players from the 1960s who will be on hand for Saturday's 1960s Celebration at the Vanderbilt game, check it out: Jim Babyak, Peter Bernard, Dennis Chapman, Chuck Demers (trainer), Joe DiSarcina, John Dreyer, Tim Edwards, Robert Eichorn, Ray Ellerbrook, Gary Gasperack, Jim Girotti, Paul Gullicksen, John Lisack, Bob Murphy, Richard Perkins, Ed Rubin (manager), Dick Samuelson, Rich Starsiak, Frank Stewart and Billy Tindall.

    That's Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Mullins Center, which is also the Leaman Legacy Game. Get your tickets on or by calling 1-866-UMASS-TIX.

    12:15 p.m. Welcome inside Hofheinz Pavilion the very interesting and historic home of the Houston Cougars as UMass prepares for a their second-to-last non-conference game of the season.

    This facility which was opened in 1969 is one of the most unique in the country as it has an incredibly low ceiling to create an intimate theater-like atmopshere. The pavilion holds about 8,500, all movie theater style seats. That is down from the original capacity of 10,000 when it opened after the likes of Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney led the Cougars to back-to-back Final Fours in 1967 and 1968.

    Houston has an amazing basketball history which is shown around the arena. The Cougars have been to five Final Fours including three in a row from 1982 to 1984 when Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were starring for Guy Lewis' squad. Houston has been to the most Final Fours without ever winning a national championship. They have won 12 conference titles, had 19 All-Americans, more than 40 NBA draft picks and two National Players of the Year in Hayes and Olajuwon.

    Houston's players have hit the court and UMass will soon as the Minutemen's hotel is about 20 minutes away.


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