Massachusetts' Chaz Williams (3) gets in to a scuffle with BYU's Eric Mika, center back, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
SPRINGFIELD — While the television announcers during the game and the media in the press conference afterward made a big deal about the smallest guy on the floor being willing to tangle with the tallest, Chaz Williams’ University of Massachusetts teammates weren’t surprised.
With 8 minutes, 59 seconds left in the first half, Raphiael Putney fouled Brigham Young’s Tyler Haws and the two got tangled as they fell to the floor just outside the 3-point line. Haws, looking angry, tripped Putney as he got up, earning the Cougar guard a technical foul.
Williams, who is listed at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, stuck his nose in to protect Putney, while BYU’s 6-10, 230-pound freshman center Eric Mika stepped forward joining the mini fray. Both players got a shove and a stream of trash talk in before the officials prevented escalation. After a conference and a peek at the video monitor, the referees gave Haws, Mika and Williams all technical fouls.
The exchange ignited the Minutemen, who won 105-96 Saturday at the MassMutual Center.
“It kinda got us fired up,” junior forward Maxie Esho said. “I mean that’s our point guard so we want to play hard for him.”
Senior Sampson Carter agreed.
“I expect that from him,” Carter said. “His energy is so contagious, so just to see him like that gets me fired up.”
Williams cautioned against getting too involved in those types of exchanges.
“Once people talk junk, it just fuels our fire,” Williams said. “Some games you have to be quiet and some games you talk back. We’re starting to learn now to keep our talk to a minimum and let our game do the talking.”
CENTURY CLUB — UMass cracked triple digits for the first time since March 5, 2008 when the Minutemen had 100 against La Salle. It was the first time scoring 100 in Springfield since the then-No. 3 Minutemen upset No. 1 Arkansas to open the 1994-95 season.
MILESTONES — Williams was the fourth Minuteman to have 15 assists in a game joining Joe DiSarcina, Alex Eldridge and Carl Smith. His 32 points were the second most scored by an Atlantic 10 player this season, one behind Fordham’s Branden Frazier. The assists were the most in conference. It was his 13th career double-double.
Sampson Carter’s 20 points were a career high.
The eight-game winning streak is the longest since 1998, when UMass won 10 straight. UMass is 117-29 as a ranked team.
BIRTHPLACE OF BASKETBALL, KELLOGG — UMass is now 45-24 all time at the MassMutual Center/Springfield Civic Center, and 20-4 since 1990. The Minutemen have won six straight and seven of their last eight in UMass coach Derek Kellogg’s hometown.