UMass makes itself at home in 74-65 win over host Georgia State

  • UMass guard Donte Clark goes in for a shot against Kennesaw State on Dec. 17, 2016 at the Mullins Center in Amherst. UMass beat Georgia State, 74-65, Wednesday for its fourth straight win. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

For the Gazette
Published: 12/28/2016 7:53:29 PM

ATLANTA — It was as close as most of the Southern-born UMass players will get to a home game for the rest of the season and they didn’t waste the opportunity to show off.

The five Southerners combined for 39 points and helped pace the Minutemen to a 74-65 win over Georgia State, Wednesday at the GSU Sports Arena. UMass improved to 10-3 in its final warmup before starting Atlantic 10 competition on Friday against St. Bonaventure.

“My whole family was here somewhere,” said DeJon Jarreau, a freshman from New Orleans who had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. “This is big, coming off Christmas break and getting the win on the road. To get this ‘W’ is a big confidence boost.”

Junior Donte Clark, who grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, scored 12 and junior C.J. Anderson, who is from Memphis, Tennessee, had 10 points and five steals. Brison Gresham from New Orleans scored four and Malik Hines of Jackson, Mississippi, played four scoreless minutes.

“We’ve got a bunch of kids from the South,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I thought after the Christmas holidays, for them to be able to fly right to Atlanta would be easier. And in the recruiting process, I had told a lot of parents that we were going to play within driving distance, so I’m trying to hold my word.”

UMass used an 18-0 run in the first half to provide separation and enjoyed a 36-27 halftime lead. Georgia State cut the lead to five with 11:35 remaining, only to have the Minutemen respond with nine straight points. Georgia State never again got closer than six.

“It was a game of runs,” Kellogg said. “When you’re playing a good team on the road, there are going to be different runs. I thought our guys showed a little more maturity and made some good basketball plays as the contest went on.”

UMass also got 12 points from Luwane Pipkins, who made three 3-pointers, and 12 points and nine rebounds from Rashaan Holloway.

Georgia State (7-5) was led by Jeremy Hollowell with 16 points and Malik Benlevi with 13 points.

But Hollowell, the Panthers’ leading scorer, didn’t get his first basket until 2:30 left in the first half and was only 5-for-13 from the field.

“We put him on red alert,” Kellogg said. “That means every time he got it, everyone on our team would at least keep an eye on him. I’ve seen him go against some high-major programs and have a huge night. We were fortunate that he never totally got it going tonight.”

The game was evenly played for the first five minutes before Georgia State went on a 12-5 run, which included a 5:51 stretch where the Minutemen failed to score. Georgia State’s biggest lead came at the 10:24 mark when Hollowell knocked in a free throw to give the Panthers a 17-10 lead.

From that point the rest of the half belonged to UMass.

A free throw by Holloway, a 3-pointer from Pipkins, followed by a steal and dunk by Anderson quickly got the Minutemen to within a point. A missed Georgia State 3-pointer led to a fast-break basket by Zach Lewis that put them ahead 18-17.

By the time Jarreau made a free throw with 5:08 left, the Minutemen had scored 18 unanswered points. Their seven-point deficit had been turned into a 28-17 lead in little more than five minutes.

“We got some good breaks and a couple of good bounces,” Kellogg said. “They missed some open shots but I thought our defense picked up the tempo a little bit, we were able to force a little more pressure on their point guard and Pipkins got a nice steal and got us a couple of easy ones to break the seal.”

NOTE: Clark continued to climb up the school’s career points rankings. He now has 1,021 points and is in 45th place. He is one point behind Tim Edwards, who played at UMass from 1963-67.

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