(22) Massachusetts (9-0) at Ohio (7-2)
GAME NOTES: The 22nd-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen take their perfect record on the road, as they clash with the Ohio University Bobcats at the Convocation Center on Wednesday night.
UMass, which has a game against Florida State in Springfield this weekend before hosting four straight contests, is coming off an overwhelming 80-54 victory against Northern Illinois on Saturday at home. The Minutemen are one of the final 13 teams, among the 351 Division I programs, that are still undefeated as of Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats have posted seven wins in nine opportunities to this point in the campaign. The team saw a five-game win streak come to an end on Dec. 7 with a 73-56 loss to Oakland, but rebounded with a 72-47 romp over Alabama A&M a week later.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Minutemen have taken both previous encounters. Last season, UMass captured an 85-76 victory at home.
Ahead by 12 points at the break, the Minutemen went from 45.9 percent shooting from the floor through the first 20 minutes to 57.1 percent in the second half versus Northern Illinois. Cady Lalanne led five players in double figures with 17 points, followed by Raphiael Putney and Clyde Santee with 13 points apiece, the latter doing his damage in just six minutes off the bench. Maxie Esho and Chaz Williams responded with 12 points each, the former clearing seven rebounds and the latter handing out the same number of assists.
Four of the five starters for UMass are scoring at least 12.7 ppg, the other (Derrick Gordon) is putting up 9.9 ppg due to the fact that he is shooting just 47.2 percent at the free-throw line. Williams is at the top of the scoring list with 16.9 ppg, knocking down 44.4 percent behind the 3-point line, as well as delivering a team-best 68 assists in nine games, against just 27 turnovers. Lalanne (15.2 ppg) handles the action in the paint with almost 10 rpg and is also tops with 23 blocked shots, but that still doesn't make up for the fact that he has handed out only two assists.
Ohio wasted little time taking out Alabama A&M, limiting the visitors to nine field goals in the first half and a dismal 27.8 percent shooting from the floor overall in the lopsided outing. For the Bobcats, as they converted an even 50 percent from the field, Maurice Ndour, T.J. Hall and Javarez Willis all tallied 12 points. Ohio overcame 17 turnovers by forcing Alabama A&M into 19 miscues and outscoring the visitor in the paint, 36-8.
Nick Kellogg, who scored only four points to go along with four assists and four rebounds in the latest win, is now tied with Ndour for the scoring lead in Athens with 13.9 ppg. Both players are shooting better than 50 percent from the field, with Kellogg also accounting for 20-of-43 (.465) beyond the arc for a group that is shooting only 31.8 percent on the perimeter. Defensively, the Bobcats have limited the competition to 37.2 percent from the floor and 29.2 percent beyond the arc.
With a balanced scoring attack that can be led by any number of performers, the Minutemen have too many key figures to cover on offense, which makes a potential Ohio win a long shot.
GAME NOTES: The 22nd-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen take their perfect record
on the road, as they clash with the Ohio University Bobcats at the Convocation
Center on Wednesday night.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Convocation Center (13,080) -- Athens, Ohio.
Television: None. Home Record: UMass 4-0, Ohio 6-0. Away Record: UMass 1-0,
Ohio 1-2. Neutral Record: UMass 4-0, Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: UMass 0-0,
Ohio 0-0. Series Record: Massachusetts leads, 2-0.Predicted Outcome
Massachusetts 75, Ohio 64