Massachusetts (18-4) at Rhode Island (11-12)

GAME NOTES: The Rhode Island Rams return home to the Ryan Center on Sunday afternoon to take on the Massachusetts Minutemen in an Atlantic 10 Conference bout.

UMass had been losers of three of its previous four games prior to its impressive 79-67 home win over La Salle on Wednesday night. The Minutemen, who had climbed as high as No. 13 in the polls following a 16-1 start to the season, are 18-4 overall, but all four of their losses have come on the road (4-4).

URI's up-and-down campaign (11-12) has taken a turn for the worse in A-10 action, as it has won just two of eight conference games. The Rams have lost back-to-back road games to Fordham (85-79) and Virginia Commonwealth (68-52), but they have impressed at the Ryan Center, going 9-3.

UMass holds a convincing 82-58 advantage over URI in the all-time series, which includes a series sweep during the 2012-13 campaign.

The Minutemen ran out to a commanding 16-point halftime lead against La Salle earlier in the week and their advantage never dipped to single digits in the second stanza. They shot a lofty 53.3 percent from the field on the evening, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range, while holding the Explorers to less than 40 percent shooting overall. Pacing five players in double figures was Chaz Williams with 17 points on 8-of-13 from the field, while also finding time to hand out eight assists. Trey Davis and Cady Lalanne netted 13 points apiece, Derrick Gordon tallied 12 points and six assists, Sampson Carter poured in 11 points and Raphiael Putney posted eight points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

On the season, UMass has shined on both ends of the floor, outshooting its opponents from the field, 47.4 percent to 40.9 percent, for a +7.8 scoring margin. It also lives in the green in terms of rebounding (+3.5), but it's not without weakness, as it shoots just 67.9 percent from the free-throw line and owns a -0.8 turnover margin. Seven players score at least 8.2 ppg, led by Williams' 15.8 ppg on 39-of-92 from beyond the arc (.424) and 100-of-135 from the foul line (.741). The point guard also ranks third in the nation in assists with 7.5 per contest. Lalanne is a mainstay in the paint with 13.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg and 2.4 bpg, while Carter and Putney net 10.4 ppg apiece and combine to bring in 10.0 rpg.

The Rams never had much of a shot at VCU their last time out, falling behind by 20 at the half before eventually losing by 16. They shot a lousy 34.6 percent from the field, which included only a 3-of-13 showing from 3-point range, and they were also plagued by 20 turnovers, which resulted in 22 points for VCU. Jarelle Reischel made the most of his 13 minutes off the bench by shooting 3-of-4 from the field and 4-of-4 at the charity stripe for 11 points. Xavier Munford scored 10 points but was much less successful from the floor (4-of-15) and Gilvydas Biruta chipped in nine points and 14 rebounds.

URI boasts a less-than-stellar offensive attack this season, shooting 43.2 percent from the field for 67.3 ppg, which isn't enough to support its solid scoring defense (68.2 ppg). Its efficiency from long distance has been especially worrisome, as it attempts more than 15 3-pointers per game but only connects on 30.7 percent of them. Munford shoots just 38.7 percent from the field but generates enough volume to score a team-best 16.5 ppg. E.C. Matthews (11.9 ppg) and Biruta (11.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg) have also been stellar.

Despite URI's impressive home record and UMass's up-and-down play on the road, the Minutemen are clearly the more talented team in this one and should be able to overcome its hostile surroundings.

GAME NOTES: The Rhode Island Rams return home to the Ryan Center on Sunday afternoon to take on the Massachusetts Minutemen in an Atlantic 10 Conference bout.

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