Rhode Island (6-14) at Massachusetts (14-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mullins Center (9,493) -- Amherst, Massachusetts.
Television: None. Home Record: URI 4-6. UMass 6-2. Away Record: URI 2-6, UMass
6-2. Neutral Record: URI 0-2, UMass 2-2. Conference Record: URI 1-6, UMass
4-3. Series Record: Massachusetts leads, 80-58.
GAMES NOTES: Coming off a tough loss the Massachusetts Minutemen return home
to the Mullins Center to take on the Rhode Island Rams in an all-New England
Atlantic 10 matchup Wednesday night.
The Rams also suffered a disappointment last time out as they fell in a 75-68
decision to then No. 9 Butler on Saturday. The loss was the fourth straight
for the Rams who are just 6-14 overall this season, while managing just one
win in seven Atlantic 10 bouts. On the road Rhode Island has picked up two
wins in eight trips but up next the Rams will play two straight games at home
beginning against St. Bonaventure on Saturday.
A turnover by Chaz Williams in the waning seconds sank UMass in a 66-65 loss
to Charlotte on Saturday. The loss came after the Minutemen had won four of
their previous five matchups. UMass is now sporting a 14-6 overall record
while managing to stay just above .500 overall at 4-3 against league foes. It
hasn't mattered where they have played this season as the Minutemen are 6-2
both at home and on the road. UMass will host Saint Joseph's in the second
tilt of this two-game homestand.
These New England rivals have met 139 times previously. UMass owns an 80-58
edge in the all-time series against the Rams who the Minutemen have played
more than any other team. The Minutemen have won three of the last four
Rhode Island put up quite a fight against the nationally-ranked Bulldogs in
the first half on Saturday. The Rams led 32-30 at halftime but allowed Butler
to open the second half on a 13-0 run and took control of the game for good.
The Rams managed to record just seven field goals on 30.4 percent shooting in
the final 20 minutes.
On the campaign Rhode Island has been hard pressed to put forward strong
offensive efforts. The Rams are the worst scoring and shooting team in the
Atlantic 10 as they net just 62.2 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting.
Rhode Island is also last in the league in assists (10.1 pg), while ranking
third worst in rebounding (32.3 pg). Xavier Munford (17.2 ppg) leads Rhode
Island which has four different players scoring in double figures. Nikola
Malesevic (11.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Andre Malone (10.3 ppg) and Mike Powell (10.2
ppg) have all reached that level as well.
UMass trailed for the entire second half against Charlotte before knotting the
game at 63-63 with 2:22 remaining. The Minutemen then allowed the 49ers to
regain a three-point lead, 66-63, from the free-throw line before Williams hit
a layup with 18 seconds remaining. A pair of missed free throw attempts by the
49ers gave the Minutemen the ball with a chance to take the lead, but Williams
had the ball and the game stolen by Pierria Henry in the final seconds.
Even though he may have made a critical error in crunch time against
Charlotte, Williams is certainly who the Minutemen want with the ball in his
hands at the end of a game. The 5-foot-9 guard is leading the team in scoring
(15.8 ppg), while topping the Atlantic 10 in assists. His ability to make
plays on both ends has been even more vital since losing second leading scorer
Jesse Morgan to a torn ACL earlier this season. Terrell Vinson (11.8 ppg) is
the only other player scoring in double figures on the roster.
The lack of depth for Rhode Island will really prove to be a weakness with the
torrid pace that the Minutemen play. As long as Williams continues to light up
the scoreboard, Rhode Island won't have enough firepower to keep up with
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 75, Rhode Island 65
02/06 10:36:21 ET
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