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UMass attempts to stay fresh with George Washington looming

AMHERST — Despite playing two games in 72 hours, University of Massachusetts senior Terrell Vinson not only isn’t tired, but he’s energized as Isaiah Armwood, his childhood friend, and George Washington come to the Mullins Center, Saturday at 4 p.m.

“Marcus Camby is getting his number retired. We’re playing each other for the first time,” said Vinson, a Baltimore native. “The Ravens play the Patriots on Sunday. It’s just an exciting weekend this weekend. ... We get the bye week next week. So give it your all. We can rest next week.”

Vinson and Armwood, a 6-foot-9 junior, played together at Montrose Christian and have known each other for much longer than that.

“That’s my man. We’ve known each other since we were 9 or 10 years old. This is the first time we’ve played against each other,” said Vinson, who talked to Armwood on the phone Friday morning. “I know how to score against him. He’s a good shot blocker, but he’s more of a weak-side, help-side shot blocker than straight up.”

Armwood, a Villanova transfer, has been a huge addition for the Colonials. He leads GW in scoring (12.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.6), and his 46 blocked shots are second in the Atlantic 10.

The Colonials (7-9, 1-2) arrive in Amherst on a two-game losing streak. After beating St. Bonaventure 78-59 at home on Jan. 9, GW lost at Xavier 71-56 Saturday. The Colonials had Temple on the ropes Wednesday, leading 53-45 with 7 minutes, 53 seconds left, but they didn’t score again. The Owls scored the game’s last 10 points to avoid the upset in Philadelphia.

That game was one of GW’s several missed opportunities to pull off big wins this season. They also fell at Rutgers 68-65 and to Kansas State at home 65-62. George Washington is 2-5 outside of Washington D.C.

GW freshman wing Patricio Garino is the latest Argentinian making an impact in the Atlantic 10. He’s averaging 9.6 points per game and should challenge for all-rookie honors.

Pace figures to be important as the Colonials will try to slow things down. Among Atlantic 10 teams, only Saint Louis games feature fewer combined points than George Washington contests. The Colonials average 64.1 points per game and allow 61.2.

Kellogg planned a short practice Friday to keep his team fresh with the quick turnaround.

“We’re going to do a game day shoot-around. A little bit of shooting and a walk through of what we need to do to win the game,” Kellogg said. “If you’re a player, you probably enjoy it. Get a little sweat today so your engine doesn’t shut off and come back tomorrow with a real game. ... It’s kind of like an NCAA tournament turnaround, but if you’re a player, you enjoy them. You’re playing. You’re not waiting around or practicing.”

Junior point guard Chaz Williams liked the schedule.

“It’s not tough. It’s more fun, turning around and getting right back after it. Play a game, turn around and get one day to recover and then there you go again,” said Williams, who praised strength coach Rich Hogans for preparing the team for stretches like this. “Our bodies are used to going hard and being tired and pushing through it.”

Kellogg said he planned to use freshmen Trey Davis and Tyler Bergantino in the first half Saturday in hopes of keeping his regulars from tiring.

“I was conscious of that last night and it really didn’t happen. I probably should have gotten Trey in a little more for Chaz, but when the game is going on you want to make sure you win the game that’s in front of you and not worry about a game down the line. I’m going to be conscious of trying to get Trey in early in the first half to try to get Chaz and Freddie (Riley) a little bit of a rest, and Tyler in to get Cady (Lalanne) a rest.”

RIVALRY SUNDAY — Whatever the result Saturday, Vinson will spend Sunday like many other Americans, watching football. The Ravens fan has been in Massachusetts each of the past two seasons when his team has faced the Patriots in the AFC championship.

“It’s a nice little battle. We’ve been battling in the playoffs since I’ve been here at school,” said Vinson, who had no plans to trash talk his Patriot fan friends even if the Ravens win. “I was on the other side of the fence last year. I know how I felt when we lost last year. I’ll have nothing to say when we beat them on Sunday.”

FOOD DRIVE — The Mullins Center will be hosting a food drive all day Saturday. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at the game at the arena’s main entrance or before and after the game at the Mullins Center practice rink.

The non-perishable food collected will be donated to the Amherst Survival Center.

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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