Derrick Gordon

Derrick Gordon’s last-second bucket lifts UMass past Providence in overtime

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AMHERST — Trey Davis told UMass coach Derek Kellogg he was confident he could take his man off the dribble and win the Minutemen the game. He did his typical jumpstop into a floater, but his shot came up a little bit short. Luckily the ball landed right into the hands of sophomore guard Derrick Gordon, who put in the game-winner with 1.1 seconds to play as UMass won an overtime thriller, 69-67, over Providence on Saturday night at the Mullins Center.

“It looked good,” Gordon said of Davis’ shot. “But it just happen to bounce my way.”

With 1:36 remaining in regulation, UMass point guard Chaz Williams picked up his fifth foul, as the Minutemen held a five-point lead. Bryce Cotton was looking to draw contact, and as he leaned in Williams backed off. Cotton hit the deck, and Williams was sent to the bench.

“I didn’t touch him, so I don’t see where the foul call came from,” Williams said.

With Williams out, PC rallied to tie the score and force overtime. It looked like the Friars would take control in the overtime period, but missed free throws  by Providence and a team grittiness from UMass kept the shorthanded Friars from picking up the win.

“I looked at everyone on the floor and they gave me a head nod like they was ready to win this game and that’s what they did,” Williams added.

UMass bounces back after suffering its first loss of the season last Saturday, as Florida State slowed down the game. Despite losing and shooting poorly, the Minutemen still had a chance to win the game, showing they can win regardless of tempo and style.

“This is probably the first team we’ve had that can win in a lot of different ways,” Kellogg said. “We can win when the game’s fast, we can win in the half-court. That just shows the guys have matured and we’re better as a team and a program.

“We can lock up and make plays in the half-court and I actually think we can get better on our press. I don’t think our press is where it needs to be quite yet. We’re not as aggressive as I’d like to be.”

Against Providence, UMass proved it could win without its star point guard, who missed the final 6:36 of the game. Trey Davis and Maxie Esho both shined off the bench — scoring 23 opposed to Providence’s zero bench points — while Gordon, who can be a big piece for the Minutemen moving forward, ended as the hero.

Moving forward this is a big game for the Minutemen. They showed maturity, especially when Williams went out , and maybe a game-winning bucket, in front of a sold-out crowd, can get Gordon — the Western Kentucky transfer — going offensively.

UMass concludes its non-conference slate next Saturday against Miami (OH). Providence begins Big East play on Tuesday, hosting Seton Hall.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.