Coach Derek Kellogg feels Chaz Williams gives Massachusetts a chance to win every game, and that's certainly been the case against Richmond.
Williams will try to lead the No. 13 Minutemen to a seventh straight victory Wednesday night against the Spiders, who seek their fourth straight home win over a ranked opponent.Williams leads UMass (16-1, 3-0 Atlantic 10) with an average of 16.3 points, while his 7.4 assists rank third in the country. The senior guard's importance to the Minutemen during this three-game road trip has earned him conference player of the week honors.He bounced back from a bone bruise to finish with 26 points, eight assists and five steals in an 88-87 win over George Mason last Wednesday. He followed that three days later by scoring all 20 of his points in the second half of an 84-74 victory against Elon."I think his ability to win basketball games, and do special things on the floor and off the floor have been the difference for us," Kellogg said. "At the end of the game, the one thing I'm confident in is if he's on our team, the game is never really over. We have a chance to win."Williams was the key for UMass as it won the last two meetings with the Spiders, totaling 35 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists and three steals while hitting 8 of 17 from the floor and 17 of 18 at the line.He was impressive in nearly every facet in the most recent visit to Richmond on Jan. 21, 2012, scoring 17 points with nine boards with seven assists to power a 79-68 win.The Spiders (12-6, 2-1), though, have won four of five and three in a row against Top 25 teams at Robins Center, most recently upsetting then-No. 19 VCU 86-74 in overtime on Jan. 24.Richmond needs some improvement from the field against the Minutemen. The Spiders overcame a season-low 36.5 percent from the floor by hitting 32 of 35 free throws to beat Dayton 73-64 on Saturday.Cedrick Lindsay is second in the conference with 19.1 points per game, but he's struggled to come close to that lately. The senior guard connected on 7 of 25 field goals -- including a 1-for-6 performance from 3-point range -- but overcame that by going 21 for 27 at the line to finish with 36 points over the past two games.Alonzo Nelson-Ododa continues to be a force defensively for the Spiders, tying for the league lead with 2.5 blocks per game. The sophomore forward has nine over the past two contests, including six with 11 points versus the Flyers."He is beyond just blocking shots," coach Chris Mooney said. "He's a very good defensive player. Obviously, you have to have size, and jumping and timing to block shots, but he's a very good position defender."He can defend jump-shooters, post-players, but it's his positioning that gives you the greatest sense of confidence during the possession."Ododa will likely have to contend with Cady Lalanne, who gives UMass a strong presence in the paint. The junior center is averaging 14.2 points, while his 9.1 rebounds rank second in the Atlantic 10. He had 23 points and 10 boards Saturday after getting 19 and nine three days earlier.