UMass knocks down LSU in home opener

Laste modified: Monday, November 25, 2013
AMHERST — Morning basketball agrees with the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team.

Tuesday morning’s 92-90 win over Louisiana State at the Mullins Center wasn’t quite as memorable as last year’s buzzer-beater over Harvard, but the Minutemen delivered entertaining action through lunch time as part of ESPN’s 24-hour Season Tip-Off Marathon.

“That was fun,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “It was a good college basketball game. We played well and showed that we’re a little more mature than in years past when teams make a run. We kept at it and kept fighting.”

LSU scored the first basket of the game, a 3-pointer by Tim Quarterman, but UMass answered with a 3 by Raphiael Putney and never trailed again. After stumbling out of the second-half gate in Sunday’s win over Boston College, the Minutemen raced out of intermission on an 11-2 run to lead 60-47 with 17 minutes remaining, but they couldn’t quite finish off the Tigers.

UMass led 88-80 with 1:24 left, but turned the ball over three times in the final 90 seconds allowing LSU to scored five straight points without having to send UMass to the free-throw line. But when Sampson Carter finally got to the line, the senior forward made all four free throws to seal the win.

“I think I’m a guy that does well under pressure,” Carter said. “Anytime in that situation I feel like I can knock them down.”

The NCAA’s focus on having officials call games tighter made foul trouble very much a factor in the game. Johnny O’Bryant led LSU with 23 points and 11 rebounds, but he was limited to 28 minutes after picking up three first-half fouls.

“Johnny O’Bryant is a great player,” UMass senior point guard Chaz Williams said. “Him not being on the floor helped us a lot. He takes up a lot of space and creates a lot of offense for their team.”

Cady Lalanne, who was dominant for UMass against BC, played just four minutes in the first half with two fouls. The Minutemen survived his absence to lead 49-45 at halftime and actually benefitted from it in the second half. With fresh legs, Lalanne had all 16 points and five of his six rebounds in the second half before fouling out.

There were 54 fouls called, well more than a whistle per minute. Eleven players had at least three fouls. UMass took advantage, scoring 28 points from the line led by Carter (six rebounds), who had 11 of his 17 points there.

Putney, who has a history of foul problems, avoided whistle woes and gave the Minutemen a big lift with 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots.

“He altered a lot of shots,” said Williams, who led UMass again with 24 points and nine assists (two turnovers). “Putt was with us the whole way.”

The Minutemen (2-0) are off until Sunday, when they host Youngstown State at 1 p.m.

“Not only are we 2-0, but I wanted to see what kind of team we had. Did we pass the look test?” Kellogg said. “Today we played closer to a 40-minute game. I was nervous about (the first two games). Now that it’s over I feel very good about our team and the outcome of the two games.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage