Massachusetts earns sloppy win over Miami (Ohio)

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AMHERST, Mass. -- No. 23 Massachusetts wasn't great on Saturday night.

Fortunately for the Minutemen, they were good enough to get by Miami (Ohio).

"I would say it's good to come away with a win and we didn't play as good as we can," coach Derek Kellogg said after his team improved to 12-1 with a sloppy 73-65 nonconference victory. "I thought Miami played a good game out there. ... I didn't think we played with the energy across the board that we need to."

The Minutemen, playing for the first time in exactly a week, came out slow, with four straight turnovers, and fell behind 4-0. But they scored 11 points in a row and never trailed again to improve to 6-0 at home (counting a win over BYU in nearby Springfield).

"It was good to come away with a win but we got to get a little better come conference time," Kellogg said. "It's a good time, I think, to start the conference and start playing and getting back to battling and going after teams."

UMass continues a four-game homestand by opening Atlantic 10 play against Saint Joseph's on Wednesday night, with St. Bonaventure visiting next Saturday.

Guard Chaz Williams scored 18 points, dished out eight assists and had three steals, and four Minutemen scored in double figures.

Miami, which opens Mid-American Conference play at Central Michigan, fell to 4-7, but 4-3 since starting 0-4 including a loss to Division III Wilmington.

Asked if playing a lesser opponent was a reason for his team not playing great, Williams said, "It's no real excuse. We're basketball players, we're supposed to come out with the intensity and the energy level every night.

"We're just going to have to make sure we're ready and prepared for Wednesday."

Starting center Cady Lalanne scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds while forward Maxie Esho and guard Trey Davis combined for 26 points off the bench. Esho scored 15 and grabbed seven rebounds.

Davis scored six straight points in the first half and then had five in a row to help put the game away in the second, while Esho continued an impressive run with his sixth double-figure scoring effort off the bench in the last seven games.

The play of the bench was one thing that made Kellogg the happiest on a night his team turned the ball over 16 times, but had nine steals and seven blocked shots.

Forward Will Felder led Miami with 22 points and seven rebounds, while guard Geovonie McKnight had 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Miami coach John Cooper, whose team is in transition after losing two players since the start of the season, both leaving school, saw some good things. Just not enough.

"We didn't do a very good job of handling their pressure in the second half," said Cooper, whose team turned the ball over 18 times. "I thought it bothered us ... you shoot 1-for-14 from three on the road, that doesn't help you -- and 18 turnovers is hard to overcome on the road. And we only get to the foul line six times."

Guard Willie Moore, a transfer from Oregon playing in just his second game because he was suspended by the NCAA for selling Oregon team gear last season, was 1-for-12 from the field, 0-for-5 from 3-point range.

It was the second straight season that the Minutemen defeated the RedHawks. UMass survived on a missed last-second layup by Miami's Will Sullivan almost exactly a year earlier.

UMass took 2:15 to score. But back-to-back long 3-pointers by forward Raphiael Putney and Williams triggered an 11-0 run and the Minutemen went on to a 21-12 lead with 8:43 left in the half. The Minutemen would lead by as many as 13 in the second half, but never could run away with it.

NOTES: UMass came into the game with all five starters averaging in double figures in scoring, but only two reached double figures Saturday night. ... The Minutemen were 7-for-16 from 3-point range and shot 51 percent overall from the field. ... Miami G Quinten Rollins had seven points, nine assists and five of his team's 10 steals. ... The two players Miami lost, guard Reggie Johnson and big man Blake McLimans, were averaging a combined 18.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Johnson, who left after nine games after losing his starting job, scored 46 points in the first two games. McLimans, a transfer from Michigan, left after four games because of an illness in the family.

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