The UMass Minutemen dismantled the New Mexico State Aggies 71-57 on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA. Before the game, Derek Kellogg asked his team one simple question, “Are you guys going to play like a UMass team should?”
UMass was unstoppable in the first half. It was a breath of fresh air, especially after their poor starts against Rider and Sacred Heart. In their first two games they really struggled to get any kind of momentum and at times, it was painful to watch. They played great on both ends of the floor against New Mexico State. UMass shot 65.4 percent in the first half and were able to hold New Mexico State to only 33 percent. UMass forced 11 Aggie turnovers in the first half, and 16 in the game. New Mexico State was down 44-23 at halftime. They played well in the second half and were able to cut the UMass lead down to 12 in the middle of the half, but that was the closest they would get.
The Minutemen were led once again by Senior guard Anthoney Gurley’s 21 points. He was named the games MVP. Javorn Farrell played in his first game of the season and made a huge impact. He recorded 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in 18 minutes of play. Farrell had missed the first two games with an ankle injury but from the way he performed, it looked like he never skipped a beat. Farrell’s ability to drive to the basket has improved since last season and he showed the ability to take the ball and create his own shot. He even played a little point guard towards the end of the game. Terrell Vinson had 10 points and 6 rebounds and looked like he might be climbing out of the funk that he was in for the first two games. In the games against Rider and Sacred Heart, Vinson really struggled shooting the basketball. It looked like he was forcing every shot and they were just awful looks. Against New Mexico State, he looked like the Terrell Vinson of last season.
UMass got into early foul trouble in both halves. Surprisingly, Gary Correia, Daryl Traynham, and Javorn Farrell all had four personal fouls before Sean Carter even recorded his first. The referees were calling every little thing and it really slowed the game down for both teams.
It has not been surprising that Anthony Gurley is the leading scorer for the Minutemen in the first three games of the season. He averaged more than 13 points per game last season and it would make sense that he would lead the team this season. It is clear that Gurley is the leader of this team. But he is certainly not alone. Freddie Riley, Sampson Carter, and Javorn Farrell have all recorded career highs in points this season. It is very encouraging to see the kind of depth that this UMass team has. Kellogg appears to have faith in every player that he puts into the game. From Freddie Riley to Matt Hill, each player knows their own role and they seem to fit seamlessly into whatever line up they are subbed into.
UMass will look to improve to 4-0 on when they take on TCU on Monday at 8pm at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA.
The Minutemen are 3-0 for the first time since the 2001-2002 season.
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Written by Jeremy Frassa