Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Javorn Farrell has career game in big UMass victory

By Stephen Hewitt

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

In its biggest game of the season, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team received monster production from one of its most unlikely sources.

Javorn Farrell, the junior guard who has watched most of this season from the bench, came through big in UMass’ 89-83 victory over Duquesne in last night’s Atlantic 10 first round game at the Mullins Center.

He scored a season-high 20 points, had a career-high nine assists, pulled down seven rebounds and made a number of key defensive stops in a season-high 32 minutes of floor time. He had averaged 20.9 minutes per game in the regular season.

“It really was [the best game of his career],” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg. “That’s actually a good [type] of game for him to play, when it’s kind of a free-wheeling, open floor game, not a lot of sets and he usually thrives in that kind of setting.”

With 17 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first half, Farrell made his first appearance in the game after Raphiael Putney was poked in the eye. Farrell made the most of his opportunity, immediately making his presence felt with a layup.

Three minutes later, he made another layup on a feed from Chaz Williams and then canned a 3-pointer on the next possession to extend the Minutemen’s lead to 19-14. Farrell made 3-for-4 from downtown, all in the first half, which was also a season-high.

“It gives me a little more confidence to know that I can still go out there and play that way,” said Farrell. “It’s good to know that you can contribute and help your team get a big victory, so I definitely feel good about that.”

But what may have been most impressive other than his offensive efficiency was his play down the stretch to help UMass preserve the victory.

With 7:26 remaining in the game, Farrell picked up his fourth foul after a Dukes defender drew a charge on him. Kellogg sent him immediately to the bench, but, riding the hot hand, put him back on the floor just one minute later.

The move seemed to work. Down five with under six minutes to play, Farrell found Terrell Vinson for a wide-open corner 3, which he drilled to bring UMass within two. Then, two possessions later, Williams found Farrell for a layup that tied the game at 78 with 4:57 to go.

In the final five minutes following that play, Duquesne scored five points, and it was Farrell who grabbed a couple of crucial defensive rebounds to help hold off Duquesne. He made two free throws with 1:14 to play to give UMass a two possession, 87-83 lead and made another one 17 seconds later to increase the cushion to five.

“I thought a couple of the rebounds at the end were huge plays,” said Kellogg. “He went up over the rim and grabbed one with one hand, and he was really making things happen on the offensive end.”

After sitting out in last Wednesday’s game against Temple, there were signs that Farrell could get over the hump following an encouraging six-point, seven-rebound performance off the bench against Rhode Island on Saturday.

Kellogg was glad to see him have such a great game on Tuesday when the entire team needed to step up for a big win.

“It was nice to see him play well because we need a full complement of players if we’re going to do anything in a three-day period the way we’re trying to play in Atlantic City,” said Kellogg.

“It shows he’s grown up and is a man,” he added. “To come back from not playing against Temple, didn’t play the second half of one of the games, and he’s kept a good attitude. His attitude has been great in practice … he’s given me the response I was looking for. He’s here playing for his teammates and the brotherhood, and that’s what we’re all about is playing for each other.”

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Hewitt.

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