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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

UMass living on the edge of late, but narrow victories keep it moving up in the polls

The Dagger

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UMass guard Chaz Williams (USATSI)

We're going to have to wait all the way to March 8 for the two best teams in the A-10 to collide when UMass hosts Saint Louis.

Perhaps the Minutemen will be able to hold their position at the top of the league and the middle of the top 25 until then. But it could be an agonizing wait.

Coach Derek Kellogg's team has been flirting with the loss column a lot lately only to pull out victories late in games, usually with guard Chaz Williams leading the way. At least the Minutemen are keeping things entertaining.

UMass has come from behind twice in its past four games to win and it earned another victory in that span in overtime. Only once in the past four games have the Minutemen won comfortably and Kellogg still wasn't happy with his team after that one.

UMass came from 13 down Saturday to beat St. Bonaventure. That victory pushed the UMass record to 14-1 overall and 2-0 in the A-10. The only loss this season for the Minutemen came Dec. 21 against Florida State. Maybe that is when the trouble began.

"We probably are not quite good enough to just turn it on and off though,” Kellogg told the Boston Herald after his team rallied to beat St. Bonaventure. “I think we got to turn the spigot on and keep it on for 40 minutes.”

The recent stretch of close calls have all come in home games. The Minutemen are facing a tough schedule over the remainder of January with five of the next six games on the road, where come backs will be that much tougher.

But winning ugly hasn't hurt UMass in the eyes of fellow coaches and voters. It rose to No. 15 in the coaches poll Monday and No. 16 in the Associated Press poll.

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