UMatch - UMass Takes on UConn

The unranked UMass Minutemen bring a 2-2 season record into the Hartford Civic Center to take on the third-ranked UConn Huskies. UConn leads the season series between the two schools 68-39, but UMass is coming off of a 58-57 win over UConn in their last meeting.

UMass (2-2) at #3 UConn (6-0)

Hartford Civic Center

Thursday, December 8th, 9 P.M.

 

TV – ESPN2 (Sean McDonough, Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas)

 

Radio – UConn Radio Network (Joe D'Ambrosio, Wayne Norman)

WILI-Willimantic (1400-AM); WLIS-Old Saybrook (1420-AM);

WMRD-Middletown (1150-AM); WICC-Bridgeport (600-AM);

WLAD-Danbury (800-AM); WXLM-New London (102.3 FM).

 

In MassachusettsWRNX (100.9 FM), WCRN (830 AM), WATD (95.9 FM)

 

Series – UConn leads the all-time series 68-38, including wins in 13 of the last 14 and 21 of the last 23 games. UMass' last win at the Hartford Civic Center was also the last time UMass won in the state of Connecticut, 81-80, on January 13, 1977.

 

Last Game – UMass comes into the game coming off of a 93-57 win over Savannah State on November 28. Six Minutemen scored in double-digits led by JUCO-transfer James Life's 18.

 

UConn defeated Texas Southern 113-49 on December 2nd.

 

Conference Records – The Big East leads the season series with the Atlantic 10 7-6 after Pittsburgh's win at Duquesne last night. For the Atlantic 10, Rhode Island defeated Providence (77-69), Richmond beat Seton Hall (60-49) and Dayton beat Cincinnati (75-66). For the Big East, West Virginia won at St. Bonaventure (66-61), Louisville beat Richmond (53-45), Rutgers beat Temple (67-53) and Pitt defeated Duquesne 71-60.

 

UMass is 96-189 against the current Big East.

 

UMass' Shotblocker – Stephen Lasme is currently second in the nation in blocked shots at 5.8 per game. He's blocked 37 on the season which is more than three Atlantic 10 teams. In UMass' loss to Davidson, Lasme missed a triple double by one blocked shot – it would have been just the second triple-double in UMass history. Al Skinner had one in 1973.

 

Transfer U. – Umass' roster currently includes six players who have transferred into Massachusetts. Luke Bonner (WVU), Etienne Bower (BU), Gary Forbes (UMass), Dante Milligan (Pitt), Brandon Thomas (LIU, Sante Fe CC) and James Life (Manatee CC). Forbes, Bonner and Bower will sit out this year, while Dante Milligan will become eligible for UMass' December game with Siena.

 

It has worked in reverse as well – junior guard Art Bowers, sophomore center Jeff Salovski and Olivier Lamoureux  have left UMass since Ford took over as head coach. Salvoski transferred to Sacred Heart while Lamoureux transferred to a Canadian college. Bowers, who left the team on November 26th, is still exploring his options.

 

Freshman Point – Like UConn, UMass came into the season dependent on a freshman point guard. After Craig Austrie rescinded his commitment to UMass, Travis Ford signed Chris Lowe, a point guard from Mount Vernon High School. Lowe, who frequently talks to former UConn-star and current Chicago Bull Ben Gordon, has struggled with the role.

 

UMass has been forced to slide wing-guard Maurice Maxwell over to become their starting point guard. Maxwell has just 12 assists on the season against 9 turnovers.

 

First Half Woes – UMass is playing the opposition to a dead-tie in the first half of their games – 136-136. By comparison, the Huskies have outscored their opponents 232-164 in their games.

 

UMass Against the Boxscore –

 

UMass is outscoring their competition 75-68. They're shooting a strong .468 from the field while allowing a generous .432 shooting from the opposition. They have connected on 25-75 three-point field goals while defending them to a .297 rate. They have a stellar +8.5 rebounding margin, led by Rashaun Freeman's 9.3 rebounds per game and Stephan Lasme's 6.8.

 

Keys to the Game –

 

UMass – Run the offense through Rashaun Freeman. The big man scored 18 points against UConn's front line last year and they will look to exploit the matchup this year. UConn's big men are longer and more athletic, but with the exception of Ed Nelson, they cannot physically matchup with Freeman.

 

UMass – Slow the game down. While UMass will likely struggle to score in the halfcourt at times, they don't want to run with UConn's athletes.

 

UMass – Protect the ball. Maxwell is a wing guard forced out of position by UMass' lack of an experienced point guard. He has an above-average handle for a wing, but he is not a point guard. Freshman Chris Lowe has not experienced an opponent of UConn's caliber and will likely be overmatched, especially on the road.

 

UConn – Don't give UMass hope. Over the recent past, UConn has allowed UMass to establish an early lead which might make the Minutemen feel a little brave tonight. UConn needs to get out early and encourage UMass to look forward to a short ride home.

 

UConn – They need Good Rudy tonight. After an inconsistent tournament in Maui, UConn could stand to have the Rudy who showed up for the Arkansas game back. UMass doesn't have a player to match up with him and UConn needs to exploit that.

 

UConn – Assuming Freeman gets his points, UConn needs to eliminate the secondary scoring threat. In last year's loss at Amherst, UConn allowed unheralded Jeff Viggiano to have a career night at their expense.        


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