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Kellogg asks for fans to return

All season long, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s coach Derek Kellogg has called for fans to pile into the Mullins Center to watch his team perform.

On Feb. 5, the Minutemen fell to Saint Joseph’s, 67-64, which hadn’t won a game in conference play until its clash with UMass. Despite the loss to the once-bottom-ranked team, Kellogg is still reaching out for fans to support.

“I’m hoping that the students we’re striving for have some school pride,” Kellogg said. “That they come because they go to UMass, because we’re their basketball team, and you know what, there’s not much else to do on a Sunday.”

This Sunday puts the Minutemen against George Washington, which is a game against two of the mid-level teams in the Atlantic 10. UMass’ previous game at the Hawks, who were at the bottom of the league, featured a roaring crowd for the Maroon and White to take on.

“[SJU’s] student-section was jam-filled,” Kellogg said.

Along with what he’s been preaching about all season, as the Minutemen return home Kellogg is asking for UMass students to return to days of the past.

“I think we’ve just got to get back to where we have school spirit and school pride,” Kellogg said.

Part of the fan appreciation was seen at the end of the Rhode Island game, when the team on the floor walked over to the fans and thanked them for their continuous effort to support the team.

“I think we’re trying to do everything the right way to make sure they feel the right way about these kids while down on the floor,” Kellogg said.

Finishing the season

Even though the Minutemen’s season is coming to an end, their schedule is about to pick up.

With seven regular season games left, UMass prepares for its final stretch of games that could lead them to an Atlantic 10 postseason berth.

The Minutemen’s first opponent in the final stretch will be the Colonials (12-11, 5-4 A-10), who rest one spot below UMass in the A-10 table. In a battle between similar teams, much like an earlier Minutemen game against URI, UMass will be looking to find out just where its season is heading.

Following the game against GW, UMass takes on the top team in the league, Duquesne, which has one loss during conference play against St. Bonaventure. The Minutemen previously beat the Bonnies, 78-69, after some hectic travel issues.

Before its rematch with SJU, UMass will compete against long-time rival the Rams again. Last time the Minutemen took on URI, they pulled out a 10-point victory behind Anthony Gurley’s 21 points. This will mark the 136th time these two sides have met.

Following their next match against the Hawks, the Minutemen will take on La Salle for the second time this season. Last time the two sides met, they competed at the MassMutual Center, with UMass scoring 54 points in the paint and having four players in double-digit scoring.

The last two games of the season will be polar opposites for the Minutemen. The first game will be against the historically-strong Temple, which has yet to play UMass this season, and has a 7-2 record in conference play.

After the match against the Owls, the Minutemen will close out the season against the bottom team in the league, Fordham.

Riley’s Run

Freddie Riley willed UMass back into the game against the Hawks on Saturday.

With the Minutemen down 13 points, Riley helped out the UMass rally, scoring a triplet of 3-pointers. He finished the game 4-for-9 from beyond the arc.

“I just want come and play my role,” Riley said following the SJU game. “If I’m making shots, then I’m making shots, but if not, then [I’ve] just got to wait for my time to come.”

Over the course of the season, Riley is averaging just over 30 percent from the 3-point arc on 36-for-119 shooting. Before the game against the Hawks, Riley’s threes hadn’t been sinking since he went 50 percent against Charlotte.

Herb Scribner can be reached at hscribne@student.umass.edu.

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