UMass men’s basketball team looks to learn from mistakes following near loss to N.C. A&T

By Philip Sanzo

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)
(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team was expected to win against North Carolina A&T, Tuesday night and it ultimately did, however not in the fashion it had hoped for.

Though UMass guard C.J. Anderson said he was not aware of N.C. A&T’s record ahead of the game, the Minutemen were clearly the favorites heading into the matchup.

“I mean you see all sorts of games and teams going in and beating all sorts of teams,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “So you gotta be ready to play. I mean, I think when we have an edge and compete with a little bit of an edge we’re a pretty good team and when we don’t we kind of walk through a game and luckily come away with a win.”

It was not until there were six minutes left in the second half that UMass (7-3) took it’s first lead, a Zach Lewis lay up following a steal by Malik Hines.

A Luwane Pipkins 3-pointer a minute and a half later put the Minutemen up 55-53 and they would hold that lead for the remainder of the game.

UMass outscored N.C. A&T 35-28 in the second half and shot an improved 57.1 percent from the floor. The same was not to be said about the first half.

The Minutemen’s shooting troubles have been well documented this season, and continued well into the first half. A 19-2 run that started when DeJon Jarreau hit the team’s first 3-pointer of the game with 4:41 left in the half boosted the team’s overall first half shooting stats.

Prior to the Jarreau 3-pointer, the Minutemen were 0-for-12 from beyond the arc and made just five of their 27 shots overall.

Following the game, Kellogg expressed his disappointment in not being able to play some freshmen who have been earning minutes in practice.

“The thing I told the guys after the game that it was a shame that Chris Baldwin, Brison Gresham and Ty Flowers don’t play,” Kellogg said. “Those guys are good players that practice hard, are highly rated guys and should be in the game. They’ve been good in practice. It’s just hard for me when we go quickly down 18, or it’s not going our way to put a bunch of freshmen out there.”

Kellogg added the players that do see substantial minutes on the floor owe it to their teammates to play a quality game so the freshmen such as Gresham, Baldwin and Flowers can see time.

Baldwin and Gresham have each put in less than 100 minutes this season. Though Flowers only saw five minutes against the Aggies, he has see the most minutes that of players Kellogg has mentioned with 128.

As a team, the Minutemen have gone through hot and cold in their games this season. The first half against the Aggies (1-8) is an example of how UMass’ scoring has gone through ebbs and flows.

“I would say just pack it inside and attack the rim,” Anderson said of breaking up the rhythm of missing shots. “We try to get into transition as much as we can. Once we get to the rim, the shots are going to fall. Rashaan (Holloway) starting hitting inside and we packed it in the paint. [Jarreau] hit a 3 and Donte hit a 3, so it gets us going like that. After that we went into transition and Luwane hit a 3, so honestly we have to go inside and attack the rim.”

The Minutemen made only six of their 25 attempted 3-pointers, a 24-percent shooting clip that has become an ever growing trend. With the exception of Donte Clark who finished with 22 points, no Minuteman hit more than one 3-pointer and three of which attempted five or more.

“Well, I’m getting a little concerned I would say about the percentages and the free throw line,” Kellogg said. “I’ve talked about that in just about every postgame thing. When we make them, we go on some great runs and look like a really good basketball team.”

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.