Bobcats, Minutemen Set For Saturday Night On NESN

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (5-4, 1-1 NEC) vs.
University of Massachusetts (8-3, 0-0 A-10)
Saturday, December 17, 2011 – 7:07 p.m.
William D. Mullins Memorial Center – Amherst, Mass.

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Bobcats, Minutemen On NESN Saturday Night
Fresh off its third win in a row, the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (5-4) will travel north over the border into Amherst, Massachusetts for its next game. The Bobcats are set to take on UMass (8-3), a talented team out of the Atlantic-10 Conference, on Saturday, December 17 at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center. The game will be televised live on the New England Sports Network (NESN) with all the action beginning at 7 p.m.

All-Time Against UMass
The meeting on Saturday will mark just the third match-up between the two programs. Thus far, the series has featured two close games, both going in favor of the Minutemen.

Scouting The Minutemen
UMass started off the young season at 4-0 overall, prior to its Battle 4 Atlantis opening-round loss to No. 20 nationally ranked Florida State (73-53). On the tail end of that four-game winning streak was an 82-46 road victory at fellow ACC member Boston College. The Minutemen are led by fourth-year head coach Derek Kellogg, who is a 1995 graduate of UMass and the first alum to serve as head coach of the program since Tom McLaughlin (1981-83). The team is led by sophomore Chaz Williams; a 5-foot-9 guard out of Brooklyn, N.Y. Williams is averaging 15 points and 6.1 assists per game, numbers that have him ranked 12th in the Atlantic-10 and 21st in the nation, respectively. After Williams, the UMass offense features 11 additional players who are averaging at least seven minutes and three points per game. In addition to depth on the roster, the Minutemen also rebound at a high level. UMass will be the first team that the Bobcats face who average over 40 rebounds per game this season.

Last Season Against UMass
Last season, the Bobcats overcame a 19-point deficit just prior to halftime, but lost on a last-second goal tend to the Minutemen, 66-64, at the TD Bank Sports Center. Justin Rutty led all Bobcats with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while James Johnson added 11 points, six assists and five rebounds. Javorn Farrell finished with a game-high 25 points for UMass.

On The Air
Saturday's game will be aired on NESN and can be heard live on AM 1220 WQUN by clicking the appropriate links posted on www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com. The voice of the Bobcats, Bill Schweitzer, will have the TV play-by-play call with Bill Mecca providing color commentary. Bob Mortali will have the call on the radio play-by-play with Bob Tipson alongside for color commentary. 

Last Time Out Against Vermont
Jamee Jackson finished with 20 points on Sunday afternoon, as the Bobcats handed Vermont a home loss, 62-58, at Patrick Gymnasium. With the Bobcats ahead by one with 2:33 showing on the clock, James Johnson silenced the crowd with a deep three-point field goal to give the Bobcats a four-point lead. In their next possession following a Catamount free-throw, Garvey Young, who returned to Vermont for the first time since transferring after his sophomore year, pushed the lead to five on a pull-up jumper from the left block. UVM ran out of time and couldn't overcome the deficit, granting the Bobcats their first win in six tries against Vermont. Johnson recorded 13 points, including two tallies from behind the arc. Ike Azotam and Young each finished with eight points and combined for 12 rebounds. Ousmane Drame hauled in a career-high 14 rebounds.

Lights, Camera, Jackson
Jamee Jackson was dominant in all facets of the game on Dec. 11 at Vermont. He compiled 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals on the afternoon. He finished 8-of-15 from the floor, 4-of-5 from the charity stripe and was stellar behind the ball as well.  Two games earlier against Bryant on Dec. 3; he netted 21 points going 8-of-13 from the floor to lead the Bobcats to the team's first conference win. His 21 points marked a new career-high, as Jackson was one rebound shy of his first career double-double. The junior out of Newark, N.J. has reached two milestones this season. Jackson collected his 400th point against Hartford, Dec. 6, and 300th rebound against Sacred Heart, Dec. 1.

Stellar D From Three
The Bobcats held the Catamounts to just 7.7 percent from behind the arc on Dec. 11. That figure marked the lowest three-point field goal percentage by an opponent since January 27, 2002, when QU held Wagner to just 6.2 percent (1-16) from long distance.

Another Defensive Stat Against The Catamounts
The Bobcats held Vermont two just two field goals over the final 10:42 of the second half on Dec. 11. The Catamounts managed just 12 points on 2-of-10 shooting during the stretch. Eight of the 12 points came from the free-throw line.

Among The Elite
Quinnipiac has once again established itself as a national power on the boards. The Bobcats lead the nation in rebounds per game (44.1), are second in offensive rebounding (17.2) and third in rebounding margin (11.6). This marks the third consecutive season that QU has cracked the top-10 in rebounding; including a second place finish (42.3 per game) in 2010-11. (Behind North Carolina – 42.5 per game)

Johnson Moves Past Mason
James Johnson's 15 points against Hartford on Dec. 6 moved him into sole possession of 14th on the all-time career scoring list. Johnson (1,354) surpassed Kason Mims' 1,320 mark, which also moved him into fourth place in QU's Division I scoring leaders category.

Rebounding Margin Factors In
Rebounding has become the identity of the Bobcats under the direction of Head Coach Tom Moore. Through 135 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 23 times. In 33 of the 134 games, QU has posted a plus-10 or better rebounding margin, including seven with plus-20 or better. The Bobcats hold a remarkable 33-1 mark when holding a plus-10 edge and a 7-1 record with plus-20.   

Just Like Ike
Ike Azotam is eighth in the country in offensive rebounding (4.2 per game) and total rebounding (10.6 per game). He has posted six double-doubles thus far, ranking him fifth in the nation in the category, including careers-highs with 20 points and 18 rebounds against American on Nov. 22 and Yale on Nov. 15, respectively. Furthermore, with his performance against Hartford on Dec. 6, he moved closer to fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. He collected his eighth career double-double, when he netted 15 points and hauled in 10 rebounds.

Big Night For "Z"
Zaid Hearst tossed in a career-high 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in the triumph at Hartford on Dec. 6. He went 4-of-8 from the floor, 5-of-6 from the free throw line and snatched two steals. He recorded 10 points in the first half and also knocked down a three in his third career start for the Bobcats.

Nothing Short Of Perfect
Junior Dave Johnson made all eight of his free-throw attempts against Bryant on Dec. 3. About a year ago, former teammate Justin Rutty went 11-of-11 from the line, marking the last time a QU player was perfect through at least eight attempts. Johnson finished with 11 points and three assists in the triumph.

Johnson, Azotam Earn Monthly Accolades
James Johnson and Ike Azotam were tabbed to the CollegeHoops.Net November NEC All-Conference Team, announced December 1. Johnson averaged 19 points, four rebounds and 3.3 assists in four games through November. He shot 41 percent both overall and from three-point land, and totaled six steals in the month. Azotam also fared well throughout the month of November, aiding Johnson on the offensive end. He averaged 13.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in five games for the Bobcats, including individual career-highs in points (20) and rebounds (18) against American and Yale, respectively.

Sharp-Shooter
Freshman Nate Gause granted the Bobcats a much needed spark off the bench at American on Nov. 22. Gause reset his career-high in points with 14 on 6-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc. He recorded double-digits in his three of his first four games and ranked 30th in the league in scoring during the stretch (9.8 points per game). Fellow teammate James Johnson began his career by scoring double-digits in four of his first seven games.

Depth Not An Issue
In the game against Navy on Nov. 19, all 16 members of the team saw time on the hardwood. 12 different members recorded at least one point, the first time since November 22, 2005 in a 106-57 win against Concordia.

On Lock-Down
QU held Yale to just 26.8 percent shooting overall and 22.6 percent in the second half of play on Nov. 15. The Bobcats have not had a more dominant display of defense since the 2008-09 campaign, when they limited the Terriers of St. Francis (N.Y.) to 25.4 percent shooting overall and just 21.9 percent in the first half.

50 Again
The Bobcats grabbed 54 rebounds in their home-opener against Yale on Nov. 15. QU nabbed 50 or more boards in six games last season, including a program Division I record 60 against Lehigh on Dec. 7, 2010. Quinnipiac had three 50-rebound games in all of 2009-10, and never had three 50-rebound games in 11 prior seasons at Division I. Quinnipiac has corralled 50 rebounds in a game 12 times in Tom Moore's four years at QU. In nine years prior at Division I, QU had just five 50-rebound games, with only two coming against teams classified at Division I at the time of competition.

No Stage Fright Here
In their first career game with a Bobcats' uniform draped over their shoulders, freshmen Nate Gause and Zaid Hearst sparked the QU offense against Fairfield on Nov. 11. Gause dropped 12 points, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc and nabbed three rebounds in his inaugural game. Zaid Hearst made his first career start in the season-opener and fared well in the back court. Hearst had six points, seven rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes of action.

On Deck
The Bobcats return to action on Saturday, December 22, when they play host to Niagara. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the TD Bank Sports Center. For all information pertaining to Quinnipiac University men's basketball, visit www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com.

Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu