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Cady Lalanne continues to improve for Minutemen after suspension

Lalanne finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“He was a great factor for us,” UMass point guard Chaz Williams said. “That’s exactly what we need him to do.”

Lalanne, Maxie Esho and Freddie Riley were on the floor during the Minutemen’s 23-1 run in the first half that turned the game around.

“Those guys are playing well. We get a little more athletic” when they come in, UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I’m happy with where Cady is. ... I thought he played a really good game defensively. He took up a lot of space and those offensive rebound put-backs are huge.

“Maxie’s really moving his way into being a guy you can really rely on with his athleticism and his ability to make plays,” Kellogg added. “I was happy for those guys. And now if we can get everybody clicking at the same time, I think we have a chance to be a pretty good team.”

Lalanne spent a lot of time in the weight room during his 12-day suspension resulting from an altercation with a police officer Dec. 1.

“I was just working out on my legs. It helped get my wind back,” Lalanne said. “I’m in a lot better shape. I feel better on the court.”

Freshman point guard Trey Davis added to the bench contribution. With Williams on the bench with two first-half fouls, Kellogg put Davis into the game and he played well against Bobcats star D.J. Cooper.

Davis finished with two points, three rebounds and three assists in 10 minutes.

MORGAN MILESTONES — Jesse Morgan’s 35 points were three shy of the Mullins Center record set by Marcus Camby in 1996. Morgan’s 24 points in the first half are a Mullins record for a half.

The all-time Minuteman record for points in a half is 29 by Julius Erving at Curry Hicks Cage.

The 35 points boosted Morgan’s scoring average this season from 13.8 points per game to 16.1.

QUIET WILLIAMS — A late missed free throw ended Williams’ 38-game double-figure scoring streak as the junior point guard finished with nine points.

“I liked that he played kind of selfless tonight,” Kellogg said. “It was kind of like, ‘Whatever the team needs me to do to win.’ When Jesse got going, Chaz was trying to get him the ball. When Cady was tough to cover in the post, Chaz was feeding him.

“When he drove in there at times, he made a shot,” Kellogg added. “I thought he had a good flow out there. For him to not score and really play a good game, he’s really growing as a player.”

NEXT UP — UMass will host East Carolina at 1:30 p.m. Saturday after the original start was moved up by a half hour. The Pirates are 7-2 after beating Gardner-Webb 62-60 Tuesday.

MINUTEMEN vs. NCAA TEAMS — The win improved UMass to 2-1 against teams that made it to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Minutemen beat Harvard and Ohio and lost to North Carolina State.

MISCELLANEOUS — There were 3,821 fans in attendance.

The Minutemen are now 2-0 against teams coached by Jim Christian, who interviewed at UMass, but was passed over for Travis Ford.

The game was the first of four contests between the Minuteman and Mid-American Conference opponents this season. After Saturday, UMass will play three straight games against MAC schools, at Northern Illinois (Dec. 29) and Miami of Ohio (Jan. 2) before hosting Eastern Michigan Jan. 5.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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