Fans pack Mullins, but UMass men's hoop falls to Butler



Last modified: Wednesday, April 17, 2013

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts got the atmosphere it was hoping for, but not the performance.

Butler controlled tempo and the boards, and the Minutemen never got in sync as the 9,341 fans went home disappointed after a 73-62 loss, Thursday at the Mullins Center.

“We’ve been asking all year to get a sellout crowd or a great fanbase and tonight, guys showed up. You couldn’t ask for a better crowd,” junior point guard Chaz Williams said. “So it kind of hurt that we couldn’t go out there and perform the way we wanted to and usually do for the crowd. Unfortunately, we didn’t win.”

UMass (18-10, 8-7 Atlantic 10) will close its regular season, Saturday at 2 p.m. at Rhode Island.

“We understand it was a missed opportunity with a great crowd. The fortunate thing is that the season’s not over,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “We have an opportunity in front of us and we’re going to go play our best on Saturday and try to come away from Rhode Island with a win.”

Butler won despite an off shooting night from 3-point range (3 for 19) and by star guard Rotnei Clarke (3 for 12 from deep). But the Bulldogs outrebounded UMass 37-20. Seventeen of those rebounds came on offense and Butler (23-7, 10-5 A-10) turned them into 17 second-chance points.

“Getting outrebounded by 17 is really kind of unacceptable,” Kellogg said. “These (rebounds), I thought they were toughness plays to a certain extent.”

Andrew Smith nearly outrebounded UMass by himself. The senior had 15 boards to go with his 13 points. Even rebounds he couldn’t get, the 6-foot-11 big man got his fingers on some, tapping them to teammates.

Unable to get defensive rebounds, UMass could never get its tempo going. Butler even outscored UMass on points off turnovers (14-10) and on the fast break (9-6).

“When you don’t get any defensive rebounds or clean rebounds, we’re not going to get any transition baskets, which is what happened tonight,” Kellogg said. “I just thought they out-toughed us tonight. I thought the kid Smith did a great job of outworking our guys and really solidified the middle for them.”

Terrell Vinson thought the Minutemen helped too much defensively on Butler’s shooters, leaving a mismatch under the basket for rebounds.

“We didn’t need to help as much as we helped. We were stepping too far up on those screens and when they shot, it was kind of like three-on-two on the boards,” he said. “It was kind of to their advantage to help out so much on the screens. ... Hopefully, we play them again. Next time, we know just to step up and not to step all the way up in the screen.”

Vinson said giving up the offensive rebounds was particularly upsetting.

“You don’t want anybody to get the offensive rebounds,” he said. “It’s kind of frustrating. It weighs you down, but sometimes, the game just goes that way. When teams execute their offense well, they get their guys in the right rebound position they need.”

The only thing that kept Butler from pulling away in the first half was its struggles from 3-point range. But Clarke hit a 3-pointer to open the second half and make it 33-22. The Bulldogs never stretched their lead into a blowout, but kept the Minutemen methodically at arms length. UMass never got its deficit under double figures in the final nine minutes.

Butler was the third straight team to prevent Williams from scoring in double figures, regularly double-teaming him far away from the basket.

“We just tried to double him without overextending ourselves which is really hard to do,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s as fast a point guard as we’ve played against and he’s so low to the ground. Kellen (Barlow) did a great job against him with his length.”

Williams finished with eight points, eight assists and five turnovers.

“They built a pretty great wall against me. They were forcing me to get the ball out of my hands, so that’s what I was trying to do,” Williams said. “I blame it more on me. I just didn’t have a good game today.”

Vinson led the Minutemen with 17 points before going down with a hip injury with 5:18 remaining. He didn’t return, but said it wasn’t serious after the game.

Clarke and Kameron Woods each had 17 for Butler.

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


 


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