The only home date in a stretch of six games for Massachusetts could provide a good opportunity for the team to bounce back from its first Atlantic 10 defeat.
Hoping to remain undefeated at home, the No. 13 Minutemen try to hand Fordham a fifth straight road loss Sunday.Though UMass (16-2, 3-1) won six straight following a 60-55 loss to Florida State on Dec. 21, the sailing wasn't always smooth during that run.The Minutemen followed that loss with an overtime victory over Providence, then overcame 16 turnovers to beat Miami (Ohio) by eight. They needed to rally to beat both Saint Joseph's and St. Bonaventure at home before playing their next three on the road.In the opener of that road stretch, Derrick Gordon made a go-ahead layup with 8 seconds left to help UMass dig out of an eight-point hole to beat George Mason by a point Jan. 15. A 10-point, non-conference victory at Elon followed last Saturday, but the Minutemen's good fortune ended with a 58-55 loss at Richmond on Wednesday."Hey, listen," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. "When teams are rushing the floor after you play them and it sounds like they won the Super Bowl in their locker room, you're going to be in for some tough games in our conference."It was an overall rough night Wednesday for the Minutemen, who shot 39.6 percent and went 2 of 14 from 3-point range. Center Cady Lalanne had 10 points with 13 rebounds, but leading scorer Chaz Williams (15.8 points per game) scored eight on 2-of-11 shooting after totaling 46 points in the previous two contests."It was just one of those days," said Williams, who had seven assists but four turnovers.Williams and the Minutemen should be eager to shift their focus to Sunday, when they return home before facing difficult rematches with St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph's on the road next week.Looking to go 8-0 on their own floor for the second time in three seasons, UMass has won two straight and nine of 10 at home versus Fordham (8-10, 1-4). However, the last two victories were decided by six points. The Minutemen have won two in a row and six of eight overall in the series, but their last three wins have come by a combined 10 points.Williams has totaled 42 points, 15 assists with 13 rebounds in his last two against the Rams while hitting 6 of 12 from 3-point range.Fordham hopes to end a four-game road losing streak after it shot 49.0 percent to snap a six-game overall slide with a 76-70 win over George Mason on Wednesday. After being held scoreless on 0-of-10 shooting during last Saturday's 70-48 loss at then-No. 24 St. Louis, senior guard Branden Frazier (18.1 ppg) went 8 of 14 from the field to finish with 22.Teammate and A-10 scoring leader freshman Jon Severe (20.9 ppg) added 21.Frazier has scored a combined 40 points and gone 6 of 12 from 3-point range in the last two versus UMass.With losses to then-No. 9 Syracuse and St. Louis this season, the Rams have dropped four straight and 25 of their last 26 against Top 25 teams. The lone victory came over then-No. 22 Harvard, 60-54 on Jan. 3, 2012.