Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball dominates from start-to-finish in win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Minutemen win 92-60

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UMass men’s basketball dominates from start-to-finish in win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

By Thomas Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor

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After a disappointing performance Friday night against Howard, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team rebounded nicely Monday, defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff 92-60.

It was a balanced scoring effort for the Minutemen (3-2). Curtis Cobb led the way with 17 points while Carl Pierre (16), Jonathan Laurent (12) and Rashaan Holloway (11) all joined him in double-figures.

UMass coach Matt McCall was proud to see his team move the ball and get everyone involved, with UMass shooting 54 percent as a team.

“We’ve got a lot of firepower,” McCall said. “I showed our team the other day our stat sheet from the two games we won and the stat sheets from the two games we lost. In the two games that we’ve won, we’ve had five guys that average double-figures. In the two games we lost, we had one guy averaging double-figures. We’ve got balance. We have to utilize it and trust each other.”

Martaveous McKnight led the Golden Lions (0-4) with 27 points while big man Trevor Banks joined him in double-figures with 13.

Luwane Pipkins, UMass’ go-to scorer, finished with just five points, but added 10 rebounds and 11 assists to give the point guard an unlikely double-double.

The junior guard took on the role of the facilitator on Monday, trying to get the rest of his teammates in rhythm heading into the heart of the Vegas tournament.

“I wanted to see what my team can do,” Pipkins said. “Obviously I can play, everybody knows that, they were going to key in on me so I just wanted to see what my team could do, if they had my back, if they were going to play well after two straight losses. They came out and played so I felt good passing them the ball.”

It was a dominating performance from start to finish for the Minutemen, who never trailed in the game. Holloway had it going in the post early, as UAPB had nobody close to big enough to contend with the UMass center in the paint.

After a lackadaisical rebounding performance against Howard, the Minutemen knew they would have to be more physical under the basket, and did just that. They outrebounded the Golden Lions 41-26 on the game, while grabbing 10 offensive rebounds that they converted into 19 second chance points.

McCall made sure to ratchet up the intensity during the teams last few practices, and felt that showed on the court.

“Practice the last couple days, I don’t know if war is the right term, but from a physicality standpoint we’ve got after it,” McCall said. “Especially putting a focus on defending and rebounding. I thought that translated into the game, just from a physicality standpoint.”

UMass was much better on the defensive side of the ball than the past two losses, holding UAPB to just 38.9 percent from the field and allowing them to make just three 3-pointers in the game.

Still, McCall sees a lot of room where the Minutemen can grow on the defensive side of the ball.

“I still think we have a lot of room to get better,” McCall said. “I don’t think we’re where we need to be defensively. I think we have to be a lot better. We have to be better on our press, we have to be better on the pick-and-roll coverage. We know what to do now. We have to go out and execute it.”

UMass is back in action Thursday, taking on Southern Illinois in the Las Vegas as part of the Las Vegas Invitational tournament. After starting the tournament 1-1, Pipkins hopes the Minutemen can bring similar intensity and pick up a pair of wins in Nevada.

“It was a little more intense,” Pipkins said. “We were up by 20 so when you up, everybody’s happy. Let’s see if we can bounce back in Vegas and get two wins. Hopefully we get two wins but if not, you just have to take it game-by-game.”

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @TJ__Johnston.

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