Massachusetts head coach Derek Kellogg talks with guard Derrick Gordon (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
RICHMOND, Va. — Chaz Williams’ personal performance combined with the University of Massachusetts’ success has put the senior guard into the national player of the year conversation.
Williams was named to the midseason watch lists for the Oscar Robertson and John Wooden Player of the Year awards Wednesday.
Williams, who entered Wednesday’s game averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 assists, was not on the preseason watch lists for either honor, but has played his way into consideration.
The Robertson Award is voted on by members of the United States Basketball Writers Association, while the Wooden Award is selected by voters chosen by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Both awards will release its finalists later in the season.
Williams struggled in his first game after receiving the national accolades. In Wednesday’s 58-55 loss to Richmond, he shot 2 for 11 with had just eight points.
“I’m going to get in the gym tonight as soon as we get back,” said Williams, who along with the rest of the team had a charter flight home Wednesday night. “I can’t shoot 2 for 11 and look for my team to follow me. We’ll get back in the gym, go back to the drawing board and fix what we made mistakes on.”
It was the third time this season Williams was held to single digits. He had four points against Clemson and eight against St. Bonaventure.
LAST MINUTE MEN — Wednesday’s game was the fourth this season decided by three points or fewer and the eighth by six points or fewer.
This was the third game decided on the final play. No. 13 UMass (16-2, 3-1 Atlantic 10) beat George Mason and Providence on Derrick Gordon putbacks at the buzzer.
TRANSITION — Against a Richmond team that’s usually good at preventing transition opportunities, the Minutemen got more running chances than UMass coach Derek Kellogg expected, but they couldn’t convert.
“I thought out half-court offense was OK. We just didn’t convert in transition tonight. They did a good job getting back,” Kellogg said. “We had two fast-break points? C’mon. We have to be in the 20s.”
TREY vs. TREY — UMass’ Trey Davis and Richmond’s Trey Davis each made key contributions. The Minuteman had nine points and an assist. The Spider had four points and nine rebounds.
3-POINT WOES — UMass was 2 for 14 from 3-point range. Williams was 0 for 4, Davis was 1 for 5 and Raphiael Putney was 0 for 3. Poor outside shooting has been the common denominator in the Minutemen’s two defeats. They were 3 for 29 (10.3 percent) from the outside against Florida State and Richmond combined. UMass has shot 38.9 percent from behind the arc in victories (93 for 239).
NEXT UP — UMass will return home for the first time since Jan. 11 when it hosts Fordham, Sunday at noon. The Rams (8-10, 1-4) beat George Mason, 76-70, Wednesday at home. UMass is 7-0 at the Mullins Center this year and 9-0 in Massachusetts.
RPI — According to RPIForecast.com, a loss to a top 100 team on the road did little to damage UMass’ high standing in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). As of 10:30 p.m. the Minutemen were still at No. 4.