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Danny Hurley has high praise for UMass point guard Chaz Williams

Chaz Williams of the University of Massachsetts, right, shoots against Mike Powell of Rhode Island Wednesday at the Mullins Center.
JERREY ROBERTS

Chaz Williams of the University of Massachsetts, right, shoots against Mike Powell of Rhode Island Wednesday at the Mullins Center. JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

AMHERST — Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley knows something about point guard play.

He was a good one himself at Rutgers. His brother Bobby, who is his assistant coach, was one of the best to ever play the position in college at Duke.

So his praise of University of Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams after the junior point guard led the Minutemen to an 81-53 win Wednesday, carries a little extra weight.

“Chaz Williams was a huge different in the game and I think (he’s) one of the best point guards in the country,” Hurley said. “He’s tough. He’s a really tough matchup because of his quickness. Against a player of his caliber with the weapons he has athletically around him, they’re tough.”

Hurley saw one of Williams’ best efforts of the season. Williams’ 27 points were two shy of his career high. He shot 9 for 14 from the floor, 3 for 5 from 3-point range and made all six free throws. He had eight assists and two turnovers.

“I thought that was the best he’s scored and got his team involved and really played,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “From a perspective of a point guard, I thought he dominated the game in a good way, without dominating the ball. It was like the ball was moving, he was moving, the guys were getting shots, he was scoring. I think when he gets in those kinds of flows, it’s beneficial to the team.”

Williams said it all came in the flow of the game.

“Yeah, it felt great. Guys kept finding me: Terrell (Vinson), Skinny (Raphiael Putney), Fred (Riley) on a couple of their drives. So I credit those guys for keep getting me shots. I felt like today was an all-around OK game for me. I still feel like I can play better,” said Williams, who said making 3-pointers made it easier to drive. “It helps a lot. It puts the defensive player in a tough situation, a tough position. It makes them have to guard me closer or give me a little space, and that way I can pick which game I want to play and how I want to play. That was pretty good.”

Williams is closing in on 1,000 points for UMass. He now has 971 in less than two seasons. Including his one season at Hofstra, he has 1,296 career points.

IHEDIGBO DAY? — UMass associate athletic director Tim Kenney said the school has reached out to former Minuteman football standout James Ihedigbo in hopes of honoring him at a future home game. Ihedigbo is a safety for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

UMass honored Victor Cruz during a game last season after Cruz helped the Giants win the Super Bowl.

VINSON 3s — Vinson hit three 3-pointers in a game just once prior to Saturday. He’s now done it in back-to-back games. A career 27.7 percent 3-point shooter, Vinson is 6 for 10 in the last two games.

NEXT UP — Unless the weather prevents either Saint Joseph’s or officials from making it to Amherst, Saturday’s 2 p.m. game between the Minutemen and Hawks (13-8, 4-4 Atlantic 10) will get played. Nationally televised games rarely get postponed and this one is on ESPN2.

Kellogg lobbied for people to show up.

“I think we need the fans to make sure they come out, especially the students,” he said. “A 2 o’clock game against Saint Joe’s on national television? Put your snow boots on, put your skis on, and come on down. I think it’s a great opportunity for them to come watch great basketball.”

MISCELLANEOUS — UMass’ 41-31 edge was its fifth double-digit halftime lead this season. The Minutemen are 5-0 in those games. ... This was UMass’ biggest margin of victory over Rhode Island since beating the Rams 78-46 Jan. 30, 2001 in Providence, R.I.

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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