Event: UMass Minutemen (5-1) Vs. College of Charleston Cougars (4-1)
Date/Time: Saturday November 25, 2011-7 p.m. EDT.
Location: Imperial Arena at the Atlantis Resort (Capacity: 4,500), Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Broadcast Info: Saturday's fifth-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament will be available on HDNet nationally. Radio coverage of the game will be available on 1510 AM in Boston with Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney on the call.
Last Time Out: UMass rebounded from their first loss of the season with a 89-75 win over Utah in the team's highest scoring game of the season. The Minutemen knocked down 15 3-pointers, hit fifty percent of their shots and five UMass players finished in double-figures. Jess Morgan led all players with 15 points behind five first half triples and the Minutemen turned 19 Utah turnovers into 31 points in the win.
The Cougars escaped against UNC-Asheville Friday night 68-66 behind eight-straight points from Antwaine Wiggins in the closing minutes for a berth in the fifth-place game Saturday. Wiggins scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and was one of three Cougars in double-digits.
All-Time Series: The two teams have met twice before with the last game coming in 2001. Both games were played in Amherst with the Minutemen winning the first before coming up just short in the second in a 77-75 College of Charleston win.
Storylines: UMass and the College of Charleston were not expected to be playing for the Battle 4 Atlantis championship but both talented squads are eager to add another big win to their resume before they head back to the mainland. The Cougars already boast three wins against teams that played in the NCAA tournament a year ago and UMass has beaten two BCS programs (Boston College and Utah) in under a week.
The contest should be a slight contrast of style as the College of Charleston has tried to slow games down, none of their games have reached the 80 point plateau, while UMass aims to run the fastbreak and pressure opponent's for a full 40 minutes.
A big key could be the team's 3-point shooting. UMass has hit six or more 3-pointers in each of their wins this season including three games of 10 or more treys. In Thursday's loss against Florida State, the Minutemen hit just 2-of-23 attempts as they were frustrated by the Seminoles defense and continued to force longer and longer shots. The Cougars have averaged seven 3-pointers a game and are hitting 36 percent of their shots from behind the arc.
Players To Watch: Chaz Williams transferred to UMass for two things: to play in a system that would benefit him and to win. While Williams struggled against the length of the Seminoles Thursday, he bounced back to have another huge game Friday. With a seemingly endless amount of energy, Williams could play an even bigger part in breaking down the Cougars Saturday.
Several Cougars deserve mention but junior guard Andrew Lawrence will be the most pivotal player for the team. The British product is averaging 13 points per game (second-best) and hitting over fifty percent of his shots. It will be interesting to see if Lawrence can keep his legs under him and continue his hot shooting especially as he tries to guide the offense and slow down Williams.
Prediction: The College of Charleston has played close games all season and have played a number of tough opponents to start the season. Unfortunately for the Cougars, UMass boasts a system that's foreign to most teams in this day and age and can wear down opponents who haven't played in a week, much less their third game in a row.
UMass 79, College of Charleston 69