Ford Urges Fans To Show For Fast-Paced Battle With Houston Wednesday Night
UMASS (10-2) vs. HOUSTON (11-1)
Ford Urges Fans To Show For Fast-Paced Battle With Houston
UMass is riding a five-game win streak overall and 14-game home win streak at the Mullins Center averaging 84.1 points per game with its new high-energy systems installed by Ford this year. The Minutemen are led by Gary Forbes (20.9 points per game) and Ricky Harris (19.2) as UMass is one of three schools in the nation with a pair of NCAA Top 50 scorers as Forbes is 22nd and Harris is 47th.
The Cougars, making their first visit to the Mullins Center, have won 10 games in a row since their only loss to Virginia Commonwealth (73-72) on Nov. 15. Houston is led by Rob McKiver, who is 20th in the NCAA in scoring with a 21.3 average. Houston is scoring 78.2 points per game.
At 11-1, Houston has the best record of any UMass opponent to come to the Mullins Center since No. 2 Saint Joseph's came to Amherst with a 25-0 record on Feb. 25, 2004.
UMass has scored more than 80 points in seven of 12 games. Houston has done it in six of 12 games including an 83-69 win over Kentucky on Dec. 18.
Wednesday game will be nationally televised on CSTV with a 7 p.m. start. Tom McCarthy and former Virginia and Xavier coach Pete Gillen will call the action. The game will be available online for free for members of UMass' Yearly All-Access package. Monthly subscribers will have to pay the single-game $9.95 fee to watch the contest.
The game will be carried on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM WRNX in Western Massachusetts and on 830 AM (WCRN) in Central Mass and 95.9 FM (WATD) in Eastern Mass. Bob Behler calls the action alongside color analyst and former Minuteman Tim Collins.
UMass Celebrates Ford's Birthday With BU Win
With the win, UMass improved to 10-2, its best start since opening the 1995-96 season 26-0 on its way to the Final Four.
Houston-UMass Series Notes
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 7-4. 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 5-4 (3-3 vs. Marshall, 1-0 vs. Central Florida, 1-0 vs. Tulsa and 0-1 vs. UAB). 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 28-38 against Atlantic 10 teams, with the big chunk coming against former CUSA foes Saint Louis (12-24) and Charlotte (2-10).
The Cougars feature a few players with local ties to the Northeast. Rob McKiver is from New Haven, Conn., and finished his prep career at the Winchendon School where he was coached by UMass alum Mike Byrnes. UMass' Papa Lo played at WInchenon as well. Senior Tafari Toney is from Brooklyn where he played at Erasmus Hall and competed against UMass' Gary Forbes, who played at Benjamin Banneker Academy. Zamal Nixon is also from Brooklyn having played at Boys and Girls.
The last time UMass was ranked in the AP Poll was in the Nov. 18, 1998 poll, when the Minutemen came in at No. 23.
UMass is one of four Atlantic 10 teams in the poll with Dayton at No. 20 and Rhode Island ranking No. 23. In "others receiving votes" Xavier has 11 points.
Of other Minutemen opponents, undefeated Vanderbilt is ranked 15th at 12-0.
Rising In The RPI
Beating the ACC & Big East
The Minutemen hold the top four shot blocking days in Atlantic 10 history led by the 1995 showing and this year's party against CCSU. UMass also had 16 against St. Francis (N.Y.) last year and St. Peter's in 2005.
The 18 blocked shots ties for the ninth most in a game in NCAA history, dating to 1985 when blocked shots became an official statistic.
After finishing third in the nation (7.45) in blocked shots with the nation's top shot blocker in Lasme, UMass is fourth in 2007-08 with 7.2 per game. UConn leads the way with 9.1 per game. Second-ranked Duquesne leads the A-10 with 8.6 per contest. UNC-Asheville is third at 8.6
UMass Continues Home Dominance
The Minutemen went 12-2 at home last season playing before an average of nearly than 6,000 fans per game at the Mullins Center, including a sellout of 9,493 for the Boston College game on Dec. 2. that UMass had its second crowd of more than 9,000 this year with 9,088 against Saint Louis on Feb. 24. Last season marked the first since 1998-99 UMass has had two crowds of more than 9,000 in the same season. The Saint Louis crowd was the largest for an A-10 game, since a sell-out of 9,493 against Temple on Feb. 17, 2001. With an average of 5,968 UMass had its best attendance since 1998-99 when an average of 6,723 came to the Mullins Center.
Ford-Tough At Home
Scoring, More and More
With the new offense, UMass is scoring a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 84.1 points per game, up from 74.4 points (+9.7) through 12 games last season and 77.3 points (+6.9) from the entire season.
UMass is 13th in the NCAA in scoring through Dec. 31 with 84.1 per game. The Minutemen are also second in the Atlantic 10 scoring behind No. 3 Duquesne (87.6). VMI leads the nation with a 94.8 average.
UMass is one of three teams in the nation with two players in the Top 50 NCAA scoring leaders as of Dec. 31 with Gary Forbes standing 22nd with a 20.9 average. Ricky Harris is 47th with 19.2 per game. The other teams on the exclusive list are Vanderbilt -- who UMass plays Saturday and North Dakota State.
UMass is 31st in total 3-pointers made with 110. With 9.2 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10 and is 18th in the NCAA in 3s per game.
Showing Major Improvement
Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 19.2 points per game after just 4.5 last season as a freshman. He played in 32 games, all off the bench, but has started all 12 games this season. Harris has 230 points this year after 145 all of last year. He passed his entire scoring total in the eighth game of the season against Marist with 18 points. He leads all Minutemen in scoring improvement at +14.7 points per game. Harris has scored in double-figures in all 12 games this season with a career-high 25 on two occasions (at Syracuse and at Boston College). He scored more than 15 in each of the first four games, surpassing his freshman-season high of 14 each time.
Senior Etienne Brower has become the force UMass thought he would be after transferring from Boston University. Brower is averaging 10.5 points in 12 starts after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 126 points in the first 12 games after just 59 all of last year in 22 games. He passed his entire total in the fifth game of the season with 75 after the Wis.-Green Bay (11/17) game which he scored a career-high 25 points. Brower has more than 12 points in six of eight games in 07-08 after his season high was just eight last year. His +7.8 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Wis.-Green Bay.
Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in four games this season -- equalling his total from all of last year. He had his career-high of 17 in two of three games at Syracuse (11/28) and against Yale (11/14). Milligan's season-high last year was 10 points which he accomplished twice. Milligan has taken his averages from 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds to 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds. An increase of 5.0 points and 1.7 rebounds.
Junior Luke Bonner is also seeing more time and making his signature 3-pointers. Bonner, who averaged just 1.6 points in 06-07 is up to 4.5 per game and has made 12-of-30 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
Among The A-10 Leaders
Ricky Harris leads in steals per game with 2.4, which is 36th in the NCAA. Harris is also fifth in the A-10 in scoring with a 19.2 average. He's seventh in 3-pointers game with 2.33.
Chris Lowe is now healthy and has returned to his usual form and place amongst the leaders when it comes to point guards. He is second in the league in assists per game with 5.5 per game. He is also fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio with 1.96 per game. Lowe averaged 14.6 point and 7.2 assists over five games after returning from an ankle injury from Nov. 28-Dec. 15. Lowe is also third in steals to Harris with 2.1 per game.
Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass. With five assists against CCSU (12/22), he passed BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and now has 326 to stand 10th. Next on the list at No. 9 is Louisville coach Rick Pitino with 329.
Danté Milligan is shooting 65.0 from the floor (39-of-60), but is shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he eligible, Milligan would rank 11th nationally and first in the A-10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 65.0, an improvement of 15.6 percent. Milligan is seventh in the league in blocks per game with 1.58.
Forbes Earns National, A-10 Honors
In the win at BC, Forbes also pulled down seven rebounds. For the week, he shot 13-of-28 from the field and 18-for-19 from the line on the week. He was also named A-10 Player of the Week after the second week of the season on Nov. 18.
Forbes was honored by the A-10 for the first time after his outstanding play on Nov. 18 as he was named the Atlantic 10's co-player of the week along with Rhode Island's Will Daniels. Forbes averaged 24.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in three contests between Nov. 11-17. He scored a season-best 29 points, including the 1,000th of his career, on Nov. 11 at Northern Iowa. He added 19 points and nine boards in the Minutemen's 89-80 win over Yale on Nov. 14. Finally, he scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists on Nov. 17 as UMass downed Wisconsin-Green Bay, 93-78. That game special to Forbes as he played before his father Roberto for the first time in his collegiate career. Roberto was visiting from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia.
UMass Wins Comm. Classic For First Time Since `99
UMass' athletic teams have had great success against Boston College athletic teams in the 2007 calendar year. The Minutemen and Minutewomen have posted a 10-2-1 record against BC in 10 different sports. Most notably, UMass' men's soccer team, which is playing in the NCAA College Cup this weekend, knocked off No. 1-seeded Boston College on Nov. 28, by the score of 2-1. Additionally, UMass' softball team beat BC twice last spring, while the Minuteman hockey team has a 2-0-1 record against the Eagles, who won the 2007 Hockey East title. One of UMass' losses came in football, where the FBS Eagles were challenged by UMass' FCS team on Sept. 29, in a 24-14 BC win at Alumni Stadium. The Minutemen, who play with only 63 scholarships in the former Division I-AA, were within 17-14 in the fourth quarter.
The win also marked the first win vs. an ACC opponent since the Minutemen defeated Florida State, 78-68 on Feb. 15, 2005.
UMass also defeated alumnus Al Skinner for the first time since 1999, after Skinner had won eight in a row. Skinner is one of four former UMass players to have his number retired. Skinner had his No. 30 retired on Feb. 18, 2004. All-time against his alma mater, Skinner is 11-21
Juicy Bits From The 107-Point Outburst
The 107 points were the most UMass has scored in a regulation game since a 110-97 win over Duquesne on Jan. 6, 1977.
It ties for the 11th-most points in a game for UMass as it also scored 107 in a win over Colgate in 1966.
The 207 combined points tied for the third-most points in a game in UMass annals. The record is 233, when UMass lost at Rutgers in triple overtime, 119-114 on Feb. 27, 1988.
The other game with more total points (214) marked the last time UMass played in a game where both teams scored 100 points in a regulation when North Texas beat the Minutemen, 110-104 on Dec. 29, 1982.
UMass continues to be the personal bug-a-boo for Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim. Of schools the legends has faced two or more times, UMass is the ONLY schools which Boeheim has never beaten. The Minutemen are 3-0, winning in 1992, 1995 and 2007 against the Orange.
In the epic win, UMass rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to come away with the win. Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with a career-high 25 points while Gary Forbes added 23 points. Forbes also had seven assists and six rebounds in what Travis Ford called his best game at UMass.
Point guard Chris Lowe returned to action after sitting for 14 days of game-action and had 13 points and a career-high tying nine assists.
UMass shot 52 percent from the floor including 14-of-31 from 3-point range. Etienne Brower made 4-of-6 from trey-range.
Danté Milligan continued to show he can be a force with his second career-high 17-point game in the last three games. Milligan also equalled his Yale game, two weeks prior, with an 8-of-9 showing from the floor.
25 Is Twice As Nice
UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off
2006-07 A Season To Remember
The Minutemen captured a share of the league title on March 3 with a 71-67 win at Saint Joseph's. It marked UMass' first regular-season league title since 1996 and sixth A-10 regular-season crown overall. The Minutemen won five straight regular-season titles from 1992-96 and proceeded to win the A-10 Tournament each time.
The Minutemen went 24-9 overall and had the best season since the 1995-96 Final Four year when they went 35-2 in finishing as a national semifinalist. UMass finished with a 13-3 record in the Atlantic 10. UMass had its best conference record since going a school-record 15-1 in 1995-96. Prior to the loss to Saint Louis in the A-10s, the Minutemen had won six games in a row overall, their longest win streak since capturing 10 games in a row in Jan.-Feb. 1998.
UMass senior Stephane Lasme was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07. Lasme is the first UMass player to be named the league's top player since Marcus Camby in 1996 and fourth overall joining Camby, Lou Roe (1995) and Harper Williams (1992). Lasme was named an AP Honorable Mention All-American following the season. He was UMass' first All-American honoree since Camby in 1996.
Lasme was joined by senior Rashaun Freeman on the A-10 First Team. Freeman is the first player since Saint Joseph's Jameer Nelson (2001-04) to be a three-time first-team selection.
Lasme is the second player to be named the league's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same campaign joining Pepe Sanchez of Temple in 1999 and David West of Xavier in 2002. Lasme joined Tony Dobbins of Richmond (2002-04) as the only players in league history to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors in successive seasons. Lasme was also named to the All-Defensive Team for the second year in row.
Lasme and Freeman were named to the NABC All-District First Team and USBWA All-District First Team.
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