BYU battles UMass in Hall of Fame Holiday Classic

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Springfield, MA ( - The BYU Cougars and the 21st-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen square off at the MassMutual Center on Saturday night, as part of the Hall of Fame Holiday Classic.

BYU has fallen flat against a pair of nationally-ranked foes this season with losses to Iowa State (90-88) and Wichita State (75-62), but it has taken care of business in the rest of its bouts en route to a 7-2 record. The Cougars are currently winners of two in a row, beating Utah State (85-74) and North Texas (97-67) in the last week.

After starting the season unranked, UMass has made a splash on the national scene with a perfect 7-0 start, with the highlight thus the Charleston Classic championship, a feat it achieved by posting wins over Nebraska (96-90), New Mexico (81-65) and Eastern Michigan (69-57). The Minutemen most recently ventured out on the road and came away with an impressive 69-57 victory over Eastern Michigan.

This game marks the first-ever meeting between the Cougars and Minutemen on the hardwood.

The Cougars were clearly superior to North Texas on Tuesday night, as they outshot the Mean Green from the field, 49.4 percent to 35.4 percent, and held a commanding 60-38 advantage on the boards en route to the 30-point victory. Tyler Haws led the charge with 23 points on 9-of-12 from the field, Eric Mika tallied 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Kyle Collinsworth scored 17 as well. Nate Austin (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Matt Carlino (10 rebounds, 11 assists) also logged double-doubles, while Skyler Halford netted 16 points off the bench to round out the balance effort. While BYU allows more points than it would like (77.7 ppg), it more than makes up for it by netting 89.2 points per game on greater than 46 percent efficiency from the field. Haws is the nation's eighth-leading scorer at 23.6 points per game. Carlino stuffs the stat sheet with 17.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.1 assists per game, while Mika (13.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Collinsworth (11.9 rpg, 8.6 rpg) are also regular contributors.

After playing a tight contest with EMU for most of the game, UMass pulled away in the final minutes with a 9-2 run to finish off the 12-point victory. It was able to hold on despite sporting a modest .431 field goal percentage, which included just a 5-of-17 showing from 3-point range. Raphiael Putney put forth a strong all-around effort in the triumph with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal. Chaz Williams tallied 12 points and eight assists, Cady Lalanne had 12 points and 12 boards, Trey Davis came off the bench to score 13 points and Derrick Gordon added 10 points. It's no mystery why the Minutemen have gotten off to such a fast start this season, as they boast impressive margins in terms of scoring (+10.1) and rebounding (+6.7). Lalanne serves as the anchor down low with 16.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, all while shooting greater than 61 percent from the floor. Williams (15.4 ppg, 6.6 apg) sets the tempo at point guard, while Sampson Carter (12.9 ppg), Putney (12.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Gordon (11.0 ppg) round out one of the nation's best starting lineups.