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No. 21 UMass looks to avoid upset at St. Bonaventure

Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams (3) and Massachusetts guard Trey Davis (12) head downcourt during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Elon, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. UMass won 84-74. (AP Photo/Lynn Hey)

Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams (3) and Massachusetts guard Trey Davis (12) head downcourt during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Elon, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. UMass won 84-74. (AP Photo/Lynn Hey)

In that 73-68 UMass win, the Bonnies led by as much as 13 in the second half and by eight in the last seven minutes before UMass came roaring back.

“They’re going to give us their best shot,” UMass junior big man Cady Lalanne said. “After we beat them last time, they said to us ‘wait til we get to their place.’”

They didn’t have to wait long. No. 21 UMass and St. Bonaventure play again Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“Their place” figures to be a challenge. SBU is 8-1 this season at the Reilly Center, which for road teams is historically as hard to win at as it is to get to.

“It’s an interesting challenge because of how well they play there,” Kellogg said. “It’s a tough location to get to with sellout crowds and their fans are so close to the floor.”

The Bonnies made 32-of-33 free throws to beat UMass 99-94 at the Reilly Center last year.

“I didn’t think we played bad, but they made 32-of-33 free throws and made more plays down the stretch,” Kellogg said.

The Jan. 11 loss to UMass (17-2, 4-1 A-10) started a three-game skid for the Bonnies (12-8, 2-4), who opened Atlantic 10 play with a win over Richmond at home followed losses to the Minutemen, Saint Louis and George Washington.

They dominated La Salle, 66-51, at home Wednesday before falling at Duquesne, 83-81, on Saturday.

Neither coach expected the other to make big changes to their game plan.

“I think who can execute the game plan and what they’re trying to do against each other will be the team that comes out and wins,” Kellogg said. “The last time we played was really a contrast in styles with us trying to force tempo on them and they being more methodical. We didn’t get it moving as much as I would have liked to until the final six or seven minutes.”

Schmidt had similar expectations.

“You are who you are. For the most part UMass is going to put the ball in (Chaz) Williams’ hands and they’re going to press and space you out,” Schmidt said. “It’s hard to change 20 games into the year. They’re going to do what they do and we’re going to do what we do. Hopefully we can do it a little better than they do what they do.”

UMass will try to contain leading scorer Matthew Wright for the second time. The Bonnies’ wing is averaging 15.5 points per game, but had just eight points on 3-for-6 shooting and turned the ball over three times against the Minutemen. Kloof, who has been SBU’s most consistent player since the start of conference play, had 15 points and seven assists against UMass.

The Minutemen will be hoping for more from Williams, who had just eight points against SBU.

UMass could be trying to avoid having opposing fans rush the court for the second time in eight days. The Bonnies will be looking for their first win over a ranked team since Jan. 15, 2000, a stretch of 24 games. SBU is 9-60 all time against ranked teams, including losses to UMass and Saint Louis this season.

NOTES — Former UMass coach Steve Lappas will be the CBS Sports Network analyst for Saturday’s game between the Minuteman and Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia. Lappas called the game when UMass beat Xavier last year in Cincinnati.

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