Expect points as UMass men’s basketball heads to Davidson 

  • Noah Fernandes and the UMass men’s basketball team look to win their first Atlantic 10 Conference game on Tuesday night when they visit Davidson. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • Davidson forward Nelson Boachie-Yiadom, center, hugs Davidson forward Luka Brajkovic (35) as they celebrate a 79-78 upset of Alabama after an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Birmingham, Ala. At left is Davidson forward Sam Mennenga (3). (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • Davidson forward Luka Brajkovic (35) challenges Alabama center Charles Bediako (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

Staff Writer
Published: 1/10/2022 5:33:27 PM
Modified: 1/10/2022 5:32:36 PM

Davidson’s John M. Belk Arena may better resemble a shooting gallery Tuesday when the UMass men’s basketball team visits the Wildcats.

The 7 p.m. tip off (ESPN-PLUS) will feature the top two 3-point shooting teams in the Atlantic 10, and two of the top five teams nationally. The Wildcats rank first in the conference hitting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc, which ranks second in the nation. South Dakota State leads the country with a scalding 44.6 percent clip.

UMass (7-7, 0-2 A-10) sits just behind the Wildcats in the A-10, making 40.5 percent of their long bombs. That’s the fifth-highest mark nationally.

It’s fitting that Davidson will be handing out T-shirts honoring Steph Curry, the most prolific 3-point shooter ever during the game.

“It’s going to be a shootout,” UMass forward Michael Steadman said after the Minutemen’s loss to Duquesne on Saturday.

Davidson (10-2, 2-0 A-10) has three players hitting more than 40 percent of their 3s with a high volume. Foster Loyer, the team’s second leading scorer at 16.4 points per game and the reigning A-10 men’s player of the week, is making 51.2 percent of his triples, which leads the conference. His 82 attempts are tied with Howard’s Kyle Foster for the most in the top 20 shooters nationally, 12 more than third-place Keller Boothby of Cornell (70).

Michael Jones (12.6 points per game) is hitting 43.9 percent from 3, while leading scorer Hyunjung Lee makes 41.8 percent from deep (17.4 points per game).

The Wildcats also lead the conference shooting 50 percent from the field, 10th in the country. They accomplish that with excellent ball movement. Their 16.57 assists per game are the second-most in the A-10.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun for the fans,” UMass guard C.J. Kelly said. “We’re not going to change our style of play.”

Four active Minutemen also shoot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers with a high volume. Rich Kelly leads the way hitting 50 percent of his triples, while Greg Jones (47.4 percent), C.J. Kelly (45.4 percent) and Noah Fernandes (43.4 percent) also clear the mark.

“It’s going to be a high-scoring game,” Steadman said.

“Hopefully not for them,” C.J. Kelly added.

The defensive end of the floor has separated the teams so far this season. Davidson only allows 65.6 points per game, the fourth-stingiest in the league. That pushes the Wildcats to the A-10’s top scoring margin. They separate from their opponents by 12.7 points per contest.

UMass, conversely, sits 14th out of 14 conference teams allowing 78.1 points per game. Opponents shoot 48.4 percent from the field against the Minutemen – worst in the A-10 – and 36.6 percent from 3, second from the bottom of the league.

The Minutemen also haven’t won a true road game yet. They’re 0-3 this season and 1-6 overall away from the Mullins Center.

UMass has lost four of its past five games, and the only win was over Fairfield in overtime in mid-December. Davidson is riding a nine-game winning streak, including taking down Alabama when the Crimson Tide were ranked in the top 10.

UMass coach Matt McCall said he told his team to stay together after losing to Duquesne over the weekend.

“Don’t split. Don’t turn on each other,” McCall said. “Block out the noise.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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