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UMass seeks back-to-back wins

Massachusetts basketball coach Derek Kellogg and the rest of the Minutemen will have a lot to be thankful for with a victory over St. Francis College tonight at the Mullins Center at 7 p.m.

UMass is coming off a 94-68 victory over Division II Arkansas-Forth Smith, their first win of the season, and Kellogg could be even happier with back-to-back wins heading into the Legends Classic Championship over the weekend, where they will face Rutgers on Friday and either Michigan State or Florida on Saturday.

“I love coaching these guys and I love being around them, it’s just hard when you have so many young guys and inexperienced players,” Kellogg said.

Redshirt junior guard Anthony Gurley paced the Minutemen (1-2) with 21 points off the bench against the Lions while adding a career-high five assists, while senior guard Ricky Harris had 18.

“Anthony really gave us a great boost when we were a little bit stagnant in the first half,” Kellogg said. “Ricky was making some decent plays, but when he’s not in the game or scoring, who else do you go to, and Anthony gave us the boost that we really need from him, and he did it kind of within the context of the offense.”

Freshman Freddie Riley also provided a lift off the bench, adding 17 points, including going 4-of-9 from 3-point range. The Minutemen will look to capitalize off a still winless Terrier (0-3) team that is coming off a 10-point loss to Canisius College on Saturday after falling to Boston College, 72-44, on Nov 17.

The Terriers were picked to finish seventh out of 12 teams in the Northeast Conference, and have a lot of veteran leadership in forward Nigel Byam and center Herman Wrice. However, Kellogg realizes how long the road is for his young team, and will not look past the match-up with the Terriers, who only have one freshman on their team, while the Minutemen have five and two transfers.

“We obviously have a long way to go, and until we get to where there are no defensive breakdowns and we take care of the basketball every time on offense, we’ll be a work in progress,” Kellogg said. “But I do see some signs that this team is going to, at some point, and who knows really when, do some good things.”

After sitting out the first two games for violating team rules, the Terriers welcomed back junior guard Ricky Cadell, who was suspended for two games for violating team rules. Cadell earned Second Team All-Northeast Conference honors after averaging 15.3 points and 3.4 assists per game. Cadell led the team with 22 points against the Golden Griffins. The Minutemen will want to pressure Cadell into taking bad shots and generate scoring from center Sean Carter and Terrell Vinson.

Through their first three games, the Terriers have been outscored a total of 219-177, and average a total of 16.7 turnovers per game.

Along with Cadell, the Terriers are led by Akim Bennett, who is averaging 18.5 points per game, along with seven rebounds and four and a half steals per contest. After taking on the Minutemen, the Terriers will open their NEC schedule against Central Connecticut State on Dec. 3 after taking on Colgate Nov. 28.

David Brinch can be reached at dbrinch@student.umass.edu.

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