UMass coach Matt McCall challenges his team to keep its edge against Georgia

  • UMass coach Matt McCall, right, directs players against Providence, Dec. 9 at the Mullins Center. Carl Pierre looks on, at back. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass senior guard C.J. Anderson drives past Matt Scott, of Niagara, in the first half of the Minutemen’s 101-76 win over the Purple Eagles in non-conference play at the Mullins Center in Amherst on Nov. 19.

  • UMass sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins, right, is pressed by Kahlil Dukes, of Niagara, in the first half of the Minutemen’s 101-76 win over the Purple Eagles in non-conference play at the Mullins Center in Amherst Nov. 19. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

Friday, December 15, 2017

AMHERST — Coming off UMass’ biggest win of both the season and his tenure as the coach, Matt McCall wanted to make sure his players weren’t satisfied.

“That’s the biggest concern. We confronted that when we got back in the gym Monday. For the past 48 hours everyone is telling us how great we are,” said McCall, whose Minutemen upset Providence Saturday. “The bottom line is we’re 5-5. What won us the game Saturday was our edge. When we don’t have that, we’re an average at best team.”

He said that edge will be essential if the Minutemen want to follow one big victory with another. They face Georgia, Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

“We have to have that edge. Our margin of error is smaller because of our lack of bodies. It was a big win, but now we have to get back to work. If we’re fat, we’re happy and we’re satisfied that’s a recipe to get beat,” McCall said. “The only way you beat a team like Georgia is if you have the right mindset, the right focus, the right mentality.”

He liked his team’s approach in practice despite being in the midst of final exams.

“Our guys have been good this week,” McCall said. “They’ve come ready to work.”

Saturday’s game is part of a football/basketball scheduling deal that features a football game next year in Athens, Georgia, and a home-and-home basketball series.

The Bulldogs arrive in Amherst at 7-1. They opened the season with four straight wins over low majors before falling to a solid San Diego State team.

They bounced back to beat St. Mary’s, which was ranked No. 21 at the time, Marquette and Winthrop.

“Coach (Mark) Fox’s teams don’t beat themselves. They don’t turn the ball over. They run good offense,” McCall said. “They won on the road at Marquette so they’re not going to be intimidated by playing on the road.”

Senior Yante Maten figures to be handful for UMass. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 18.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots.

Junior point guard William Jackson II averages 12.5 points and 4.0 assists, and is the team’s most prolific 3-point shooter (17-for-42, 40.5 percent).

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