Massachusetts (18-6) at Saint Joseph's (15-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 11th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hagan Arena (4,200) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Massachusetts 12-0, Saint Joseph's 10-2. Away Record: Massachusetts 4-4, Saint Joseph's 3-7. Neutral Record: Massachusetts 2-2, Saint Joseph's 2-1. Conference Record: Massachusetts 7-3, Saint Joseph's 5-5. Series Record: Massachusetts leads, 32-28.
GAME NOTES: The Minutemen of Massachusetts take to the road to face Saint Joseph's at Hagan Arena with the possibility of first place on the line in this Atlantic-10 Conference showdown.
Massachusetts earned its fourth win in the past five games Wednesday, downing St. Bonaventure 76-67 to move to 7-3 in league play and stay perfect at home this season (12-0). The Minutemen found themselves down three at the break but busted out on a 14-0 run to start the second half. The Bonnies battled back, though, and UMass needed another 17-2 surge to put the game away. Sophomore Jesse Morgan was instrumental in the win, draining 6-of-7 three-pointers en route to a career-high 24 points. Morgan had nine points alone on the game- clinching 17-2 spurt while Chaz Williams came up with a hearty 17 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Saint Joseph's had its two-game win streak broken Wednesday by Saint Louis, falling 72-60 at home. The Billikens shot 52.0 percent from the field in the second half, pulling away with a back-breaking 11-0 run with a little more than six minutes remaining. The Hawks did well just to hang with the visitors after misfiring to the tune of a 34.6 shooting percentage in the final period. Saint Joseph's shot just 39.2 percent from the floor overall with Langston Galloway's 15 points pacing the effort. Ronald Roberts added 14 points off the bench and Carl Jones netted 13 as the Hawks dropped to 5-5 in the A-10.
UMass posted a 71-62 victory against the Hawks January 14th, its second straight win in the series and fifth in the past six games overall. These two split last year's season series with Saint Joseph's winning 67-64 at Hagan Arena. The Minutemen lead the all-time set by a 32-28 count.
The Minutemen feature the A-10's top-scoring offense at 77.1 points per game led by the sophomore Williams, who ranks among the A-10's top scorers at 15.8 points per game and second in the league in assists per game with 5.9. Raphiael Putney is the club's only other double-figure scorer at 10.3 ppg but the Minutemen get steady contributions elsewhere with Morgan and Terrell Vinson posting 9.4 and 9.2 ppg, respectively. Sean Carter is the team's top rebounder at 6.3 per game and adds 7.9 ppg to the mix. Vinson adds 5.5 rebounds per contest and Putney grabs 5.7 boards as UMass sits atop the conference in rebounding with 40.0 per game leading to a sturdy plus-2.3 margin. The Minutemen defense does enough to be effective in allowing 69.5 ppg and a 39.9-percent shooting clip. UMass shoots 44.0 percent from the floor overall.
The Hawks also do well on both ends, though don't always enjoy the same success as UMass. Saint Joseph's puts up 71.3 ppg on a crisp 47.0 percent shooting while the defense holds opponents to 67.6 ppg and a 39.3 shooting percentage -- second-best in the A-10. The Hawks feature four players averaging double-digit scoring with Jones' 15.9 ppg ranking among the conference's best. Galloway isn't far behind at 15.4 ppg and leads all of the A-10 in three-pointers with 64 on a cool 45.7 percent accuracy. C.J. Aiken and Roberts are huge contributors, averaging 11.2 ppg each and ranking inside the league's top-10 in field-goal percentage at 55.8 and 61.1 percent, respectively. Halil Kanacevic checks in with a team-leading 7.5 rebounds per game and chips in 8.0 ppg Roberts and Aiken also help out on the boards with 6.0 and 5.3 rpg, respectively, while Saint Joseph's manages a decent plus-1.7 margin overall (36.6-34.9).
UMass will make the Hawks try and keep up on the scoreboard, and with the hosts' limited depth behind their top scorers, foul trouble could become an issue. The Minutemen need to take a step forward on the road (4-4), and with the possibility of first place hanging in the balance, now should be the time.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 78, Saint Joseph's 73
02/11 10:36:45 ET