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No. 23 UMass overcomes poor performance to beat Miami (Ohio)

Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams (3) stumbles as he drives past Miami (Ohio) guard Geovonie McKnight during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Amherst, Mass., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Massachusetts won 73-65. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams (3) stumbles as he drives past Miami (Ohio) guard Geovonie McKnight during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Amherst, Mass., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Massachusetts won 73-65. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

By MATT VAUTOUR @GazetteUMass
Saturday, January 4, 2014
(Published in print: Monday, January 6, 2014)

But the 23rd-ranked Minutemen made enough shots and stops in the last couple of minutes to hold off Miami (Ohio), 73-65, Saturday at the Mullins Center.

UMass coach Derek Kellogg, who was visibly frustrated on the sideline, vented about it afterward.

“It was good to come away with a win. I don’t think we played as well as we can,” he said. “I don’t think we played with the energy across that board that we need to. Some guys took some tough shots in some situations. ... We had a good week of practice. I thought we were going to come out and play a little better.”

UMass senior point guard Chaz Williams said the Minutemen needed to get back on track quickly.

“We’re basketball players,” Williams said. “We’re supposed to come out with intensity and energy every night. We have to make sure we’re ready for Wednesday.”

The Minutemen (12-1) begin Atlantic 10 play Wednesday against Saint Joseph’s at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

UMass led by as many as 13 at 61-48 with 4 minutes, 29 seconds left, but missed free throws, turnovers and Miami offensive rebounds allowed the RedHawks to put together a 9-2 run to stay alive at 63-57 with 2:53 remaining.

After UMass center Cady Lalanne missed inside, Sampson Carter, who has struggled offensively in recent games, put back the offensive rebound. The play seemed to settle the Minutemen. Derek Gordon picked off a pass on Miami’s next possession that led to a Williams layup that pushed UMass’ lead back to 10 sealing the game.

“Sampson didn’t play as well as he can, but sometimes he’s a right-place, right-time kind of guy,” Kellogg said. “That was one of those plays that kind of sealed the game.”

UMass’ ball-handling kept both teams in the game. The Minutemen had 21 assists on 25 baskets, but Miami turned 16 turnovers into 16 points. UMass was greatly helped by Miami’s struggles from the 3-point line as the RedHawks hit just 1-of-14 3-pointers. The RedHawks’ 34-27 rebounding advantage particularly annoyed Kellogg.

“To get outrebounded by anybody is really not acceptable at this point,” Kellogg said. “We should be a better rebounding team with all our supposed size and length and athleticism.”

Williams led UMass with 18 points and eight assists. Maxie Esho added 15 points and seven rebounds. Lalanne added 12 points and six rebounds and Trey Davis added 11.

“We made our run with our subs in with Tyler (Bergantino), Trey and Maxie,” Kellogg said. “It’s good to see our bench is getting a little deeper, but I need our starters and our fifth-year seniors to play a little better.”

Will Felder led Miami (4-7) with 22 points and seven rebounds.

Kellogg said it marked further evolution of his team to be dissatisfied after a win.

“It’s nice when you win a game to improve to 12-1 and that wasn’t good enough,” he said. “That makes you feel good, because you realize we have a chance to do something. That wasn’t to the level we want to be at. We want to be better than that in all aspects of the game.”

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

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