For the fifth consecutive game, No. 19 UMass found themselves locked in a battle that went down to the final possessions.
And while the Minutemen found themselves in the loser’s column when they went down to Florida last month to take on Florida State, Derek Kellogg’s club has now managed to win four straight dog fights, the most recent a 73-68 come-from-behind victory over St. Bonaventure in Amherst on Saturday afternoon.
It wasn’t easy, however. With 9:49 on the clock, St. Bonaventure’s Chris Dees hit a jumper to put the Bonnies up 60-47 and, seemingly, in complete control of the game, but that’s when it all went off the rails. Over the final 9:49, St. Bonaventure managed just three field goals while turning the ball over eight times against the relentless pressure from the Minutemen.
UMass finally took the lead with 1:07 left when Trey Davis hit a three after UMass corralled an offensive rebound.
Chaz Williams was just 1-for-7 from the floor and finished with only eight points, but he added nine assists and collected three steals and a block during the UMass comeback.
UMass has the ability to go on extended runs like this. They play uptempo, they can hit threes and the length and athleticism in their press makes them difficult to bring the ball up against. When they start forcing turnovers, they’re tough to handle. But UMass is going to want to break this habit of second half runs and comebacks. The best teams in the Atlantic 10 — VCU, Saint Louis, George Washington, Dayton — they aren’t going to be as susceptible to that press as some of the teams at the bottom of the conference.
A win is a win, and it’s tough to argue against it.
But just because UMass won doesn’t mean there aren’t things that they can improve upon.
Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.
The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.
“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.
“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”
A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?
Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.
Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.
The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.
According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.
John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.
The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.
Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.
Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.
Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.
Michigan added to an already strong Class of 2018 recruiting haul on Friday night as four-star forward Ignas Brazdeikis pledged to the Wolverines on Twitter.
The 6-foot-8 Canadian was one of the premier scorers in the Nike EYBL this past spring and summer playing with CIA Bounce as Brazdeikis averaged 21.1 points per game on 49 percent shooting from the floor. Well-rounded outside of his scoring, Brazdeikis also put up 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while also showing a workable jumper that was 26 percent from three-point range.
With the job that Michigan head coach John Beilein has done developing forwards, most recently with the rapid improvement of players like D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner, it’ll be fascinating to see how Brazdeikis will look at the college level after some time on campus. Beilein’s offense is favorable for skilled forwards with a penchant for scoring and Brazdeikis could end up being a tremendous fit for the Wolverines.
Brazdeikis becomes the fourth member of Michigan’s Class of 2018 recruiting haul as he joins four-star forward Brandon Johns, four-star guard David Dejulius and three-star forward Taylor Currie.