The UMass Minutemen now have two quality wins to kick off the 2013-14 basketball season after they held on for a 92-90 win over LSU on Tuesday morning as part of the ESPN Tip Off Marathon. Chaz Williams and Sampson Carter led the way for Derek Kellogg's bunch as they held off a late push by the Tigers.
Williams finished with 24 points and nine assists while Carter scored 17, with 11 of them coming from the free throw line and two of them coming with four seconds left on the clock. The Louisiana native was relentless in getting to the free throw line and he had to be with Cady Lalanne missing the last four minutes after fouling out.
Lalanne followed up his career day against Boston College with a slightly more down-to-earth performance on Tuesday, although its hard to imagine he wouldn't have finished with an even more impressive stat line had he remained eligible to play. The junior center was 8-for-10 from the floor for 16 points and six rebounds, four of them coming on the offensive end. Lalanne did most of his damage against BC under the offensive glass and had be played a few more minutes, he likely would have gone over 20 points again.
Derrick Gordon made strides in his second game, making 3-of-8 field goals en route to an eight-point, seven-rebound, three-assist, two-block performance. Gordon was billed as a jack-of-all-trades guard and through two games, the one piece of his game that hasn't been there has been the shot making. That will come, and when it does UMass will be even harder to contain on offense.
The press breaking was a concern down the stretch. It seemed like when LSU turned the heat up, all the confidence of a game they had led almost end-to-end seemed to melt away from the Minutemen. Williams and Trey Davis were noticeably shaky in the face of the press and it almost cost them to the game. The fact that it didn't is an indication that this UMass team is ready to grind out games and keep the lead where in past years they might have folded. A positive sign, for sure.
LSU's Johnny O'Bryant III was the first legit big man the Minutemen have faced this year and if his 23-point, eight-rebound performance is an indication of how things are going to go with those types of players, UMass could be in trouble. O'Bryant was limited by foul trouble and still put up some pretty gaudy numbers in spite of it.
The Tigers also lost star freshman Jarell Martin to an ankle injury very early on, taking away one of their best weapons before the game even found its footing. It's hard to imagine he wouldn't have made a difference, which adds another layer of concern beneath the jubilation of the win.
But a win is a win, and UMass now has two of them. Kellogg and Co. will certainly take it.
Other things of note
- I missed large portions of the game due to work responsibilities, but when I was watching I found that my eyes were bleeding from those grey uniforms. My God. Whoever is passing down that edict from the upper levels of adidas needs to stop, because sleeves don' belong on basketball jerseys. Stop now before night clubs are filled with your V-necked monstrosities. That is all.
- Seth Berger was the only freshman who got into the game today, catapulting him into the lead in "games played" amongst freshmen. Minutes is another competition, although they are all hovering around 1 and 2. Perhaps they will be factors later, but not now. (EDIT: Demetrius Dyson also played, notching 3 minutes)
- Raphiael Putney only had two fouls today, folks. Huzzah! If he keeps this up he could be more of an exclamation point than a question mark. Always need more exclamation points.