UMass men's basketball tops Dayton

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AMHERST — University of Dayton basketball coach Archie Miller had a bit of a perplexed look on his face when he met with the media after Wednesday's game at the University of Massachusetts.

"It's a really unexplainable performance in terms of execution," said the sixth-year Dayton coach.

Not quite unexplainable, as the Minutemen had three players score in double figures in a 67-55 win that gave coach Derek Kellogg's team its first Atlantic 10 Conference victory.

"We had some good practices" this week, said UMass freshman guard Luwane Pipkins. "We knew we had to get a win vs. Dayton, the No. 1 team in our conference, supposedly. From the looks of things, we beat them, so we're the No. 1 team in our conference."

Maybe not, but for one night, the Minutemen (11-6, 1-3 Atlantic 10) looked good from stem to stern. Pipkins had a game-high 17 points, while fellow freshman DeJon Jarreau had 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds. He also had six assists and three blocked shots. Sophomore big man Rashaan Holloway had 14 points and seven boards.

The Minutemen scored 32 points in the paint, using their size and athletic advantage over a smaller Dayton squad. UMass also had nine second-chance points to just three for Dayton.

"I'm pretty happy that our guys came out and fought, and played as close to 40 [minutes] as we have all season," said Kellogg. "We practiced really hard the last couple of days and really went after each other. I thought that was a key to us playing a little better this evening and had a better, kind of, vision of what UMass basketball is all about."

UMass trailed by as many as five points in the first half. The Minutemen held a 34-27 halftime lead, but the Flyers (12-4, 3-1) did come back to tie the game at 38 with just under 14 minutes left in the game.

Coming out of a TV timeout, Malik Hines made 1 of 2 from the line, starting a 10-0 run. Jarreau had five points in that run. He took his man off the dribble for two, making it 47-41 and after a two-minute dry spell, hit a 3-pointer over a screen by Holloway.

The next trip down the court, Holloway rebounded a 3-point miss by Scoochie Smith, and started a fast break. Holloway finished it on an assist from Jarreau. That forced Miller to call a timeout, but the damage was done. It was 52-41 with 7:29 left, and the Minutemen held Dayton at arm's length the rest of the way.

"That should be the outcome every game," Jarreau said with a smile. "We should be 4-0 right now. We have to step it up and keep playing like this."

The stat sheet had a couple of negatives. UMass did commit 17 turnovers, more than their average. The Minutemen, who shoot 65.4 percent from the free throw line, were 11 of 23 for 47.8 percent in the game. They did, however, make 6 of 7 in the final 1:39 to help ice the victory.

For his part, Kellogg has to like the bravado of his young Minutemen, but for the coach, caution is still a word in their vocabulary.

"I don't know if we should be 4-0," he said with a laugh. "We're working towards getting better, and just trying to play the right way more frequently during a game that will give us an opportunity to win."

The Minutemen lost their first three conference games, turning what had been a more-than-solid 10-3 start into a slightly better-than-average 10-6 mark.

But winning the first of four A-10 home games in the next six will have to make practice this week a little better.

"Hopefully, we can do the same down at Rhode Island" Sunday afternoon, said Kellogg. "Just play the game the right way for as many minutes of the 40 as possible."

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253. On Twitter @howardherman


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