UMass men’s basketball continues hot shooting in rout of Clemson Monday night

By Andrew Cyr

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Donte Clark was smiling, Jabarie Hinds was dancing and the rest of the Massachusetts men’s basketball team looked like they had just hit the jackpot on a slot machine.

And that was only after the first 20 minutes of play Monday night.

The Minutemen (4-0) could have cashed out at halftime, jumping out to 22-point lead before UMass eventually cruised to an easy 82-65 win over Clemson (3-1) in the first round of the MGM Grand Main Event in Las Vegas.

“I thought they did a great job. We had a little luck there early on. We made some 3s in late-shot clock situations. Donte raised up a few guys and kind of went one-on-one. Once a few of those went in, I thought the floodgates opened and we shot the ball really well,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg told reporters after Monday’s game.

With the game tied at six apiece with 16 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the first half, the Minutemen went on a 9-1 run, making five of six attempts from the field to jump out to an early 20-7 lead.

“I think they’ve gotten kind of hungry,” Kellogg said. “It dates back to those scrimmage games that we had where I didn’t think we played as well.

“The guys have bought in since then,” Kellogg added. “Our defense has gotten better and the young guys have come along some. We’re playing well and I thought we did some (good things).”

Clark, Hinds and Trey Davis all took turns carrying the load for the Minutemen as the trio combined for 71 of the team’s final tally. Clark and Davis each finished with 25 points while Hinds finished close behind with 21.

Clark scored 18 of his 25 in the first half while Davis and Hinds each had 11.

UMass tied its single-game program record with 16 3-pointers for the second consecutive game with Davis making seven of his 10 attempts while Clark chipped in with five of his own.

“It’s hard not to be energized when you make 16 3s and it seems like every one is going to go in. Even the one’s we missed I was feeling like they were going to go in because they were good shots,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg said UMass has spent extra time working in practice on 3-point shooting with a big contributing factor being the new John F. Kennedy basketball performance center.

“I think they’re more confident. It looks like guys spent some time shooting the ball in the offseason,” Kellogg aid.

The Tigers entered Monday’s game holding opponents to 47 points per game. This is the third time in four games the Minutemen have scored more than 80 points.

Jaron Blossomgame and Avry Holmes each added 18 points in the loss as Clemson shot just 6-for-27 from deep.

UMass will face the winner of Creighton and Rutgers with the championship game set to tip off at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. It can be seen nationally on ESPN2.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.