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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mullins Center (9,493) -- Amherst, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: SJU 7-3, UMass 7-2. Away Record: SJU 5-4, UMass 6-2. Neutral Record: SJU 1-1, UMass 2-2. Conference Record: SJU 4-4, UMass 5-3. Series Record: UMass leads, 32-29.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams looking to keep pace in the crowded Atlantic 10 Conference standings will meet up at the Mullins Center, as the Massachusetts Minutemen play host to the Saint Joseph's Hawks.
Entering this week, the top 11 teams in the A-10 were separated by a mere two games.
Saint Joseph's saw its three-game winning streak come to a halt in Wednesday's 60-54 road loss at Dayton. The Hawks, who are a respectable 5-4 in road games this season, will return home to face Richmond this Wednesday.
Meanwhile, UMass has won three of its last four to move into a tie for second place. The Minutemen were also in action on Wednesday night, as they cruised to an 81-53 victory over Rhode Island.
In terms of the all-time series between these two squads, UMass holds a narrow 32-29 advantage.
Despite leading by seven with 12 minutes to play against Dayton on Wednesday, the Hawks were simply unable to come up with key buckets late in the game, as they were held off the scoreboard for a span of nearly six minutes in the second half. UD's Kevin Dillard hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with just over two minutes to play, and he scored six more points down the stretch to keep SJU at bay. Carl Jones and C.J. Aiken were the only double-digit scorers for the Hawks, finishing with 12 and 11 points, respectively. On the season, Jones leads the team with 14.9 points per game, while Langston Galloway is close behind with 13.7 ppg. That duo has combined for nearly 60 percent of SJU's 3- pointers. Down low, Aiken (11.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Ronald Roberts (11.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg) lead the way.
UMass has been without second-leading scorer Jesse Morgan (13.4 ppg) since mid-January, when the junior guard was lost for the season with a torn right knee ligament. Morgan was able to stretch defenses by averaging nearly three 3-pointers a game, and the Minutemen have missed his outside presence. Still, leading scorer Chaz Williams (16.4 ppg) is a 38.2-percent shooter from beyond the arc (34-of-89), while Terrell Vinson (11.9 ppg) has also picked up some of the slack. Earlier this week, UMass posted its highest point total since Dec. 22 thanks to a collective 52-percent shooting effort from the floor, which included 9-of-19 accuracy from long range (.474). UMass also won the rebounding battle over URI, 38-27. Williams had a game-high 27 points to go along with eight assists in the victory.
The challenge for both of these teams has been carrying over a strong performance from one game to the next. The Hawks thought they had things figured out with their recent three-game winning streak, while the Minutemen hope to build on Wednesday's effort.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 76, Saint Joseph's 72
02/09 10:31:54 ET
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