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Clyde Santee may have stated his case to get more minutes for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team.

With his team up by 19 points late in Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois, UMass coach Derek Kellogg decided to give his freshmen some meaningful minutes down the stretch. What followed was the unexpected.

Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

Santee knocked down his first shot – a 3-pointer – followed by a driving lay-up, another 3-pointer, a thunderous dunk and then capped off his brief appearance with a three-point play.

“I was just doing what coach wanted me to do,” Santee said. “Spotting up, making the shot, focusing on getting to where I needed to be on defense and all the right things.”

Santee finished the game with 13 points in only six minutes of action, helping the Minutemen improve to 9-0 with an 80-54 blowout win over the Huskies in front of 4,694 fans at Mullins Center.

The Houston, Texas, native shot 5-of-6 from the field, including 2-for-3 from behind the 3-point line. His performance stole the show in what was an otherwise routine win for UMass.

Kellogg said after the game that Santee has shown this potential in practice and all he needed was an opportunity to showcase it in a game.

“I just ask him to continue to work hard,” Kellogg said. “His opportunity is going to come. Really for him, it’s staying focused every day and come in and lock in like he did (Saturday) and not just on game day because they don’t realize that in practice, that’s when you build my confidence.”

After enduring a grueling schedule to open the season, the Minutemen now find themselves in a stretch of games that could warrant more playing time for the younger players. It’s just a matter of making sure the starters take care of business on their end to get them that opportunity.

“That’s something coach preaches to us all the time, giving them an opportunity to play,” Cady Lalanne said. “So, getting a big lead and getting them in the second half, that’s something we look forward to doing.”

It’s been a long time since Santee last saw a ball go through the hoop in competitive play. He had to sit out all of last season after enrolling at UMass as an academic non-qualifier and hadn’t hit a shot so far this season.

“I was just thankful that coach gave me the time that I got,” Santee said. “So I just wanted to go out there and do what I had to do and them keeping me focused, all of the coaches and all my teammates and all that just wanted me to go out there and prove that I had been listening to what they’ve been saying”

While Saturday was Santee’s shining moment, Kellogg was quick to make sure that the other freshmen – Demetrius Dyson and Seth Berger – didn’t have their performances off the bench overlooked.

“What I liked about Demetrius is that he actually had a layup there in that stretch run,” Kellogg said, “and for him to give it up to his freshman guy and let him make the play and give him the glory that he was getting and Seth scrapping for loose balls. … I thought Seth gave us good minutes coming up with loose balls and scrapping a little bit.”

Santee was one of five Minutemen to score in double-figures on Saturday and the eighth UMass player to score at least 10 points in a game this season.

Patrick Strohecker can be reached at pstrohec@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @P_Strohecker.

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