Preview: Miami (Ohio) at Massachusetts
The fickle Western Massachusetts fans appear to be firmly behind No.22 Massachusetts, but the task now will be to keep them there, beginning with Saturday's game against visiting Miami (Ohio). Coming off their first sellout crowd at home in seven years, the Minutemen seem to have momentum on their side heading into one of their final non-conference games and the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule that follows. "It hasn't been that way in a while where there's a sold out crowd," coach Derek Kellogg told the media after the victory over Providence. "That was great for the fans to come out and really support this team and it's what helped win this game. The crowd really stayed in it even when it looked like it could go either way."The Minutemen, who also had a sellout for a home game in Springfield against Brigham Young, will be in search of their third win in as many games against the Mid-American Conference, following double-digit triumphs over Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois. Even in victory, Kellogg saw plenty his team could improve on, with free throw shooting on the top of the list. "We still have to work on our free throws, 9-of-18 is not going to win you a championship in our league," he said. "The two things that hurt us (in the loss) against Florida State we didn't improve on much, so we have to do a ton of 3-point shooting and a lot of free throw shooting."TV: 7 p.m. ET.ABOUT MIAMI (OHIO) (4-6): The Red Hawks received some bad news prior to their most recent game against Southern Illinois when second-leading scorer Reggie Johnson decided to transfer. Johnson, a sophomore, was averaging 11.8 points and 2.1 assists while playing 28.1 minutes per game. The loss leaves coach John Cooper with nine players, including leading-scorer Will Moore (14 per game) and Will Felder, who averages 13.2 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds. ABOUT MASSACHUSETTS (11-1): In the win over Providence, Kellogg and his team learned they can survive - if only for short stretches - without senior point guard Chaz Williams, who watched from the bench as the Minutemen pulled out a victory in overtime after he fouled with 1:36 left in regulation. Trey Davis had an assist and made two free throws in overtime in Williams' place. "I thought Trey did a nice job down the stretch run," Kellogg said. "We may be in that position three or four more times this year. To come away with a victory when things weren't perfect is a testament that we've matured and have gotten better as a team."TIP-INS1. The Minutemen won the first meeting with the Red Hawks 70-69 on the road last season.2. With 41 steals so far this season, Miami senior Quinten Rollins has moved into the top five in school history with 159 steals.3. The Red Hawks, whose last win over top 25 team came last year against No.10 Boston College, last made the NCAA tournament in 2007.PREDICTION: Massachusetts 77, Miami (Ohio) 64
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting and The Sports Xchange. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.