The Minutemen (2-4) have struggled to begin the season. Their trip to Atlantic City was no different.
As part of the Legends Classic, UMass served as a host for the opening rounds of the tournament and automatically qualified for the semi-finals and a trip to Atlantic City. The other qualifying hosts included Rutgers, Florida, and Michigan State.
After trailing by 19 points in the beginning stages of the second half, the Minutemen made things interesting down the stretch before eventually falling at the hands of Rutgers, 83-75.
Leading scorer, Ricky Harris, struggled in the first half scoring only two points, however, was the key part in the comeback attempt for UMass. Harris finished with a team-high 22 points despite the slow start offensively.
Anthony Gurley chipped in with 19 as well.
Rising sophomore Michael Rosario had another big game for Rutgers (3-2), tallying 22 points in the victory.
Although the excitement did not come the way of UMass in Atlantic City, the Florida Gators shocked No. 2 Michigan State in the other semi-final game providing UMass with what will probably be their toughest test of the season.
The Minutemen were steamrolled by the Spartans, 106-68. Michigan State used a 30-3 run in the first half to ensure a convincing victory.
Anthony Gurley led the way and tied a career-high with 24 points in the loss. Michigan State will likely fall in the polls come Monday, but certainly bounced back strong in the game over UMass, controlling nearly every aspect.
Despite the 2-4 start to the season, UMass has appeared to establish a solid one-two offensive punch in Ricky Harris and Anthony Gurley. Both are threats to go for 20+ points on any given night, continuously proving that through the front six games of the year.
The Minutemen will try to get back on track on, but have a tough stretch of opponents looming in their near future. UMass will take on Quinnipiac, one of the tougher teams in the Northeast Conference this season, before heading to Holy Cross and a trip to New Jersey in preparation for a game with Seton Hall.
Head coach Derek Kellogg and his squad will need to figure out a way to ensure getting victories in the games they “should” win. At this point, early in the season, they cannot afford to dig themselves an even deeper hole.