UMass men’s basketball tops Kennesaw State with balanced offensive performance.

By Philip Sanzo

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

A 95-77 win over Kennesaw State made a miserable snowy Saturday afternoon much better for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team.

Once UMass (8-3) took the lead in the middle of the first half, it kept firm control for the duration of the game. The shooting performance of Kendrick Ray (35 points, 11-for-17 shooting), kept the Owls from falling too far behind, but ultimately the Minutemen stayed in control throughout the entire contest.

A 14-point second half performance was the best freshman point guard DeJon Jarreau has played since missing two weeks due to a right foot injury.

Jarreau’s most electric moment came when he spun away from the Owl’s (3-8) James Scott and cruised through lane finishing off his drive with a booming one handed dunk with one minute, 36 seconds remaining in the contest.

“They just always ask me when I’m going to get a dunk down the lane or whatever and I just be like whenever I see that lane that is when I’m going to take off,” Jarreau said. “And once I came off the spin I just saw the lane and I just took off and the rest is history.”

Though the Minutemen attempted a season-high 73 field goals, this game did not seem like the shooting frenzy that has come to be expected with this year’s group.

A good reason is because the Minutemen took only 24 3-pointers – an amount commonly seen in one half alone this season – and hit 12 of them. Forty-eight of the Minutemen’s 95 points came in the paint.

The Minutemen’s offensive approach of getting the ball inside and driving to the basket was evident early on. UMass’ first 3-point attempt did not come until Zach Lewis missed an attempt 3:43 into the game. In their last game against North Carolina A&T, the Minutemen missed all seven of their attempted 3-pointers in the first five minutes.

Luwane Pipkins tied a team record with eight 3-pointers. This was not only his best performance from beyond the 3-point line, but also his most efficient with a 3-point percentage of 57.1.

“[Derek Kellogg] told me just shoot the ball, so shoot ‘til you hit, shoot ‘til you miss and that’s what I did tonight,” Pipkins said. “Eight 3’s, tied the record, put me in the record books.”

With Atlantic 10 games nearing, UMass coach Derek Kellogg wanted to get a taste of what some of his freshmen not named DeJon Jarreau or Luwane Pipkins could do with more minutes.

“I just had to make the call, like ‘Chris [Baldwin], you’re going in,’” Kellogg said. “If it’s two bigs, if its not, at some point I just have to say I’m playing him. And then as they get more comfortable – and Chris gets his mask off – I think that will be a nice boost for us because Brison [Gresham] gave us some great minutes in the second half.

“Then I played all five of them at once at the end just to see what it looked like to let them go. I’m liking that guys like Donte Clark and C.J. [Anderson] and those guys are kind of buying into their role and trying to play the game the right way.”

Gresham played a total of 21 minutes and racked up a career-high eight points and three blocks. The freshman forward/center also led the team in rebounds with eight.

The Minutemen have two more non-conference games left on their schedule against Rider and Georgia State. Kellogg would like to see more consistency from his freshman before A-10’s role around.

“You know I would like to see us put it together more now next game and next game and things of that nature before I get more excited because we’ve done it in spurts and I think this has been the best kind of spurt we’ve had in the second half there,” Kellogg said. “But my expectation for some of these guys is kind of higher than even they understand.”

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