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Record: 11-1 (1st in Atlantic 10 Conference)
UMass climbed one spot in the AP rankings over the month of December despite sustaining its first loss of the season, a narrow five-point defeat at Florida State on the 21st. The Minutemen bounced back from that setback with a 69-67 overtime victory over Providence to close out 2013 on a high note. Overall, they continued their dominant run in a month that included their first 100-point game - a 105-96 defeat of BYU on the 7th - and their largest margin of victory of the season in an 80-54 drubbing of Northern Illinois one week later.
Massachusetts rings in the new year in a virtual tie with Saint Louis (12-2) atop the Atlantic 10, and continues to lead the conference in offensive production with 81.6 points per game. Five players are averaging double figures in scoring: guard Chaz Williams (15.3 points with 7.7 assists per game), center Cady Lalanne (14 ppg on 58.3% field goals with 10.1 rebounds), forward Sampson Carter (12.8), forward Raphiael Putney (10.8) and guard Derrick Gordon (10.2).
The Minutemen also found time to star in this commercial for “White Boy Water”:
Minutemen January schedule: 01/04 vs. Miami (OH) (4-6), 01/08 vs. Saint Joseph’s (8-4), 01/11 vs. St. Bonaventure (9-4), 01/15 @ George Mason (6-6), 01/18 @ Elon (7-7), 01/22 @ Richmond (10-4), 01/26 vs. Fordham (7-6), 01/29 @ St. Bonaventure (9-4)
Record: 11-1 (1st in Ivy League)
Harvard was perfect in December, winning its five games by an average of 10.8 points, including a 21-point beatdown of TCU to kick off the second month of the season. The Crimson also defeated local rivals Northeastern and Boston University in back-to-back games, then enjoyed a two-week break before taking down Vermont and Fordham to improve to 11-1. Harvard can hardly get comfortable, however, as it leads Princeton by just one game in the Ivy League standings.
Swingman Wesley Saunders leads all Crimson scorers with 15.2 points per game, ahead of guard Siyani Chambers‘s 12.3 and forward Kyle Casey‘s 11.8. Harvard has the Ivies’ best defense, allowing just 62.6 points per contest.
Crimson January schedule: 01/01 vs. Boston College (4-9), 01/04 @ Rice (5-7), 01/08 @ #17 Connecticut (11-2), 01/11 vs. Dartmouth (7-4), 01/21 @ Florida Atlantic (3-10), 01/26 @ Dartmouth (7-4), 01/31 vs. Princeton (10-2)
Record: 7-6 (T-2nd in Patriot League)
December wasn’t kind to the Terriers, who went 2-4 with overtime losses to Harvard and Norfolk State. The good news is that BU is still near the top of the weak Patriot League, tied for second place with Lehigh and just behind 6-5 Colgate. There are only two games between first and last place in the conference, so a winning or losing streak by any team can radically alter the standings.
The Terriers are led by guard Maurice Watson, Jr., who’s averaging 15 points, 6.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game while shooting 57.3% from the floor. Forward Dom Morris also has a solid shooting percentage of 58.1%, good for 12.4 points to go with his seven boards per contest, and guard D. J. Irving is adding 12.3 points.
Terriers January schedule: 01/02 vs. Holy Cross (6-6), 01/05 @ Lehigh (7-6), 01/07 vs. Navy (5-6), 01/11 @ Lafayette (4-7), 01/15 vs. Colgate (6-5), 01/20 vs. Loyola Maryland (5-6), 01/22 @ American University (4-7), 01/25 @ Bucknell (5-6), 01/29 vs. Army (4-7)
Record: 6-6 (4th in Patriot League)
Holy Cross was 2-3 in an uneven December that featured a narrow defeat of Albany, a 74-55 drubbing of NJIT and double-digit losses to Hartford, Canisius and Michigan. As with Boston University, the weakness of the Patriot League is the best news for the Crusaders, as they find themselves just a half game out of first place.
Crusaders January schedule: 01/02 @ Boston University (7-6), 01/05 vs. American University (4-7), 01/08 vs. Colgate (6-5), 01/11 @ Bucknell (5-6), 01/15 @ Army (4-7), 01/18 vs. Lehigh (7-6), 01/22 @ Lafayette (4-7), 01/25 @ Navy (5-6), 01/29 vs. Loyola Maryland (5-6)
Record: 4-9, 0-1 (last in Atlantic Coast Conference)
Boston College had a very rough December, going 1-5 with its only win coming against Division II Philadelphia University. The Eagles also got an early start on conference play, losing 88-80 to Maryland on the 12th. Only two ACC games have been played so far, so there’s plenty of time for BC to turn things around and get in the mix, but early signs have not been promising.
Eagles January schedule: 01/01 @ Harvard (11-1), 01/04 vs. Clemson (9-3), 01/11 @ Virginia Tech (8-5), 01/13 vs. #2 Syracuse (13-0), 01/18 @ #19 North Carolina (10-3), 01/21 vs. Georgia Tech (9-4), 01/29 vs. Virginia Tech (8-5)
Record: 3-10 (last in Colonial Athletic Association)
Northeastern went 1-5 in December, edging Milwaukee 62-59 on the 21st for its only win of the month. Although that win came in a close game, the Huskies have struggled to come out on top in such contests: their five losses came by an average of just 4.8 points, and they haven’t lost a game by double digits all season. As the calendar turns to a new year, they find themselves 5.5 games behind first-place Drexel.
Forward Scott Eatherton is averaging a double-double for the Huskies, with 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds, while shooting 57.9% and blocking 1.9 shots. The team’s second-leading scorer is guard David Walker, with 11.5 points per game.
Huskies January schedule: 01/04 @ Vanderbilt (7-4), 01/08 vs. UNCW (6-9), 01/11 @ Drexel (8-4), 01/13 vs. Charleston (6-7), 01/15 @ James Madison (5-9), 01/18 vs. Delaware (6-7), 01/22 @ Towson (8-6), 01/25 @ Hofstra (4-8), 01/29 vs. James Madison (5-9)
Record: 1-11, 0-1 (last in America East Conference)
UMass Lowell kicked off the month of December with its first win since moving up to Division I this season, but it came against Division III Mount Ida College, so the River Hawks are still waiting for their first victory against a D-I team. Since then, they’ve dropped five straight by an average of 18.2 points, including a 78-39 demolishing at the hands of Columbia that was their biggest loss of the season. On the plus side, they did lose by single digits for the first time, to St. Bonaventure two days after the Mount Ida win. The Hawks played their first conference game on the 18th, losing 62-48 to Vermont.
Three players average more than 10 points for the River Hawks: guards Akeem Williams (13.9), Chad Holley (12.4) and D. J. Mlachnik (10.2), but none has more than five rebounds or three assists per game.
River Hawks January schedule: 01/05 vs. UMBC (4-9), 01/11 @ Binghamton (3-10), 01/15 vs. Albany (6-7), 01/18 @ Stony Brook (9-4), 01/20 @ Hartford (5-9), 01/23 @ Maine (2-10), 01/26 vs. New Hampshire (2-10)