atchup: Duquesne (6-14, 1-8 Atlantic 10 Conference) vs. Massachusetts (9-10, 3-5), 7:35 p.m. today, Palumbo Center.
Radio, Internet: KQV-AM (1410), www.kqv.com or www.GoDukes.duq.edu.
Duquesne: Coming off a 95-66 victory against Fordham. ... Looking to snap a 16-game losing streak against Massachusetts. Last victory against the Minutemen was Feb. 9, 1991. ... Senior F Wayne Smith ended a three-game slump by scoring 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting. ... Senior G Jamal Hunter scored 26, his career high at Duquesne. ... Freshman G Aly Samabaly will not play (ankle).
Massachusetts: Coming off a 70-59 loss at Rhode Island. ... Has lost two in a row after winning consecutive games against Temple, George Washington and St. Bonaventure. ... Likely will be without 6-11 starting C Micah Brand (10.2 ppg), who has a sprained ankle. ... Led by senior G Shannon Crooks (14.6 ppg). ... Fourth in the league in scoring defense (66.7 ppg).
Hidden stat: Massachusetts Coach Steve Lappas, in his first season with the Minutemen after nine years at Villanova, had a higher winning percentage with the Wildcats than his predecessor, Rollie Massimino. Lappas was 174-110 (.632). Massimino was 357-241 (.597) in 19 seasons.
ITTSBURGH - University of Massachusetts senior Shannon Crooks was caught up in the New England celebration Monday as the Boston native was wearing a white Tom Brady Patriots jersey under his jacket when he arrived for practice in honor of the Super Bowl winners.
Coming off two straight losses, most recently to lowly Rhode Island, the Minutemen could use something to celebrate themselves. That goes especially for Crooks, who scored a season-low five points on 1-for-15 shooting Saturday while battling a sore knee and a bump on the head.
UMass will try to end its skid in Pittsburgh, a city where neither Crooks' team nor his jersey are well liked. The Patriots beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, while the Minutemen have defeated Duquesne, tonight's 7:30 p.m. opponent, 16 straight times dating back to 1991.
The Dukes have reason to be optimistic about their chances to end that streak tonight. While the Minutemen are coming off a loss to Rhody, who many people thought wouldn't win an A-10 game this year, Duquesne just hammered Fordham, 95-66 a team that beat the Minutemen 95-86 earlier this year.
Under former Nebraska coach Danny Nee, who was hired when Darelle Porter was fired after last season, the Dukes are showing signs of improvement.
For the fourth straight year, Duquesne has been led by Wayne Smith. The 6-foot-7 Canadian plays inside and outside leading the Dukes in scoring (14.9 points per game) and rebounding (5.9 boards per game).
Fellow senior Jamal Hunter is having a strong campaign at 10.1 points per game.
"I know they have some pretty good guards that I remember from last year," Crooks said. "They beat Fordham so I know they're capable of beating us. So we need to focus on being on the same page and go after this game."
To get back on track the Minutemen could really use Kitwana Rhymer to be on the up end of a season that's been up-and-down.
With Micah Brand still out of the lineup with a sprained ankle, Rhymer's rebounding presence alone would be helpful.
With 7-foot freshman center Simplice Njoya still serving a suspension for a receiving illegal benefits prior to signing with Duquesne, the Dukes have very little size to counteract Rhymer inside if he can get on a roll.
On the other hand the Dukes will be difficult for the Minutemen to match up with. Brand was more suited to moving to the perimeter to guard smaller players.
"They are undersized which is tough," said UMass coach Steve Lappas. "They have a whole bunch of guys who are very quick and athletic. Their guards are pretty big actually. They don't have a real big guy. They have a group of 6-foot guards. They're all tough, they all go off the dribble."
UMass will use a small lineup again starting 6-foot-5 sophomore Raheim Lamb at power forward.
Although he's done a respectable job in the position, Lappas would prefer to move him back to small forward where he can continue his long-term development.
"He can run the motion out of the four (power forward), but he's played the three (small forward) all year, he doesn't know all of our plays out of the four and even defensively with our trapping, he's never done it out of the four," Lappas said. "His future is not as a four man."
Lappas hopes Lamb continued to develop as a 3-point shooter after making his first one against Rhode Island.
"He makes them in individual instruction," Lappas said. "If you watched him in individual instruction, you'd think he was a capable 3-point shooter."