UMass hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1998, but through five games Derek Kellogg’s Minutemen have the appearance of a group that can end that drought. Friday afternoon UMass added another solid victory to its resume, soundly beating No. 19 New Mexico 81-65 in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic. After struggling from the field in the first half and leading by just five at the break UMass took better shots while controlling the flow of the game, shooting 56.3% in the game’s final 20 minutes.
Chaz Williams led four Minutemen in double figures with 19 points and big man Cady Lalanne posted another double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. While Alex Kirk was highly productive for the Lobos, finishing with 32 points and 11 rebounds, but outside of Kendall Williams (13 points) no other New Mexico player scored in double figures.
UMass was able to make New Mexico uncomfortable offensively, resulting in 18 turnovers that led to 21 points on the other end. Add in a 46-26 advantage in points in the paint and an offensive rebounding percentage approaching 46%, and it isn’t difficult to see why UMass was able to put the game away in the second half.
With either Clemson or Davidson next, Kellogg’s Minutemen will likely be favored to win the title game on Sunday. And with that could come the program’s first appearance in the Top 25 since November 1998. With Williams running the show and talented options in fellow guard Derrick Gordon (11 points), forwards Raphiael Putney (18) and Sampson Carter and Lalanne in the middle, UMass has the talent needed to contend in the Atlantic 10.
With games against BYU and Florida State remaining on the non-conference schedule, they’ll have the opportunity to add more quality non-conference wins to their resume before the start of Atlantic 10 play. Before the season began the question asked was why should UMass be regarded as a threat to preseason favorite VCU and reigning champions Saint Louis. After this latest result, it’s more appropriate to ask why can’t the Minutemen contend for the A-10 crown.
N.C. State, whose season has been something of a disaster to date, face a must-win game against Wake Forest in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon, and since nothing can be easy for Mark Gottfried’s club, they’ll have to find a way to win the game after their bus broke down en route to PNC Arena:
This is why you can’t have nice things, N.C. State.
The Atlantic 10 invades NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Saturday with two games that will air as part of a doubleheader.
It starts with Fordham at UMass at 12:30 p.m. and concludes with Rhode Island heading to Duquesne at 2:30 p.m.
CLICK HERE to watch the Atlantic 10 on NBCSN
During North Carolina’s blowout win over N.C. State on Jan. 8, the Tar Heels weren’t the only ones in the building who were feeling it.
As it turns out, North Carolina ball boy Asher Lucas was the hottest shooter of anyone in the building that night.
During halftime of that Jan. 8 game, Lucas nailed three consecutive halfcourt shots, as his father, Adam Lucas, a North Carolina columnist, released the video this week to YouTube. The video quickly went viral as Asher’s unreal streak of shots was all over TV and the Internet.
The Tar Heels have been struggling to find consistent perimeter shooting for the last few seasons, so maybe they need to start scouting Asher for a future roster spot.
Milwaukee picked up a Horizon League win on Friday night as guard Brock Stull knocked in a buzzer-beater to topple Cleveland State.
Stull only had four points on the night as he played 30 minutes and finished with five assists and six rebounds.
Oregon released a statement on Friday afternoon that said star forward Dillon Brooks had seen doctors and was in a walking boot, but gave no further update on his condition.
Brooks suffered what the program termed a “lower leg injury” on Thursday night against Cal. The injury was to his left leg – on replay, it looked like he rolled his ankle – which is concerning because his left foot is the foot that he injured over the summer, which caused him to miss the first three games of the season.
“He’ll be evaluated in the next couple of days and see where he’s at,” head coach Dana Altman said after Thursday’s game.