Miami-Florida (4-1) at Massachusetts (3-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: William D. Mullins Center (9,493) -- Amherst, Massachusetts. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Miami 4-0, UMass 1-0. Away Record: Miami 0-1, UMass 1-0. Neutral Record: Miami 0-0, UMass 1-2. Conference Record: Miami 0-0, UMass 0-0. Series Record: Miami leads 3-0.
GAMES NOTES: Coming off a huge upset win, the Miami-Florida Hurricanes will head north to tangle with the Massachusetts Minutemen at the William D. Mullins Center on Saturday.
When the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans went to Coral Gables as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge, Miami was certainly considering the underdog. However, the Hurricanes posted a 67-59 victory over the Spartans. The win was the third straight for Miami which has won four of its first five games. Miami will take on another Atlantic 10 foe in its next matchup against Charlotte.
Chaz Williams did it again for UMass in its most recent outing. The 5-foot-9 guard got a layup to go with just four seconds remaining and then collected a steal on the next possession to lift the Minutemen to a 64-63 win over Siena. That triumph came on the heels of back-to-back losses for UMass during the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. UMass will be involved in a Bay State showdown against Northeastern in its next time out.
With an 83-75 victory last season in Coral Gables, Miami won its third game in as many tries against UMass.
A 9-0 spurt near the beginning of the second half separated Miami from Michigan State as the Hurricanes never trailed again in the game. Miami hit 47.7 percent of its shots in the game including an even 50.0 percent in the second half, while outscoring the Spartans 27-18 from 3-point range and 16-5 from the free-throw line. The win came despite a 37-28 disadvantage on the boards. Trey McKinney-Jones led four players in double figures with 18 points.
Also in double figures in the game was Duran Scott who has made a welcome return to the team after missing the first three games. He has scored 15 points in each of those contests and is also averaging 5.5 rebounds per game during that span. All five starters are averaging in double figures for the Hurricanes, who generally do not play many off the bench. Shane Larkin (16.8 ppg, 4.0 apg) is the top scoring option, with McKinney-Jones (12.8 ppg) also adding scoring from the wings. On the interior, Kenny Kadji (10.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Reggie Johnson (11.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg) form a formidable tandem with their ability to score and rebound. Rion Brown (6.0 ppg) is the only reserve to really see considerable action on a nightly basis.
Williams' late game heroics against Siena helped the Minutemen avoid a third straight loss and kept the team above .500. It also aided the Minutemen in bouncing back from a 32.4 percent shooting effort in the first half as UMass hit on an improved 42.9 percent of its shots in the second half including five of its total seven 3-pointers. Williams didn't just wait until the end to make an impact, as he had a game-high 23 points.
Regardless of his size, Williams plays at a very high level across the board. The junior guard leads the team in a number of categories, including points (16.8 pg) and assists (6.8 rpg), while also rebounding well (5.2 pg) out of the backcourt. Jesse Morgan (!5.8 ppg) teams with Williams on the wings in a very productive starting backcourt. Terrell Vinson (!2.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Raphiael Putney (7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) will have the responsibility of handling Kadji and Johnson in the paint. Cady Lalanne (5.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) fills out the starting five on a team that, like Miami, doesn't provide many opportunities for its reserves. Overall, Massachusetts is shooting just 40.2 percent from the field this season, while dealing with a -5.2 scoring differential.
The Hurricanes are clearly going to be a team that will be a tough out all season. While UMass won't be able to run away with this one, Williams should find a way to get the job done, with Miami likely to suffer a letdown on the road after such a huge win last time out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 78, Miami 75
12/01 10:37:29 ET