SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — UMass point guard Chaz Williams is at least 13 inches shorter than Eric Mika, yet that didn't stop him from going nose-to-uniform number with the BYU forward.
"Once guys started pushing and shoving, I just told them to keep it together," Williams said after supplementing his career highs for points and assists by stepping into the middle of a minor skirmish and leading No. 21 UMass to a 105-96 victory over Brigham Young. "I think it carried over. The energy got us fired up."
Williams scored 32 points and added 15 assists, and Sampson Carter scored 20 points Saturday to lead the Minutemen to their eighth straight victory. Raphiael Putney added 15 points for UMass (8-0) in the third annual Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase, played down the street from the basketball shrine in the town where James Naismith invented the sport.
Williams was 9 for 14 from the floor, including 5 for 7 from 3-point range, and he hit all nine of his foul shots as the Minutemen topped 100 points in regulation for the first time in five years.
"Chaz Williams just kind of lulls you to sleep; throws it around a few times and then just attacks and gets wherever he wants," said Tyler Haws, who scored 25 points for BYU (7-3). "He was kind of doing it all for them."
On Saturday, that included having his teammates' backs after Putney and Haws got tangled up in the lane. Williams stepped in and briefly mixed it up with Mika; Haws, Mike and Williams were all whistled for technical fouls.
"I expect that from him," Carter said. "His energy is so contagious, so just to see him like that gets me fired up."
Matt Carlino had 23 points and six assists, and Mika had 18 points and eight rebounds for BYU, which had won two in a row. All three of the Cougars' losses were against teams ranked in The Associated Press Top 25.
"I think we're close, but we've got a lot of work to do," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "Chaz Williams was really good. Everything we had for him, he had a pretty good answer for us."
The Minutemen (8-0) are off to their longest winning streak since 1998 and their best start since winning their first 26 games in 1995-96 en route to a since-vacated appearance in the Final Four. Among the UMass victories are two against Atlantic Coast Conference schools and one each against the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Mountain West and West Coast Conferences.
Coach Derek Kellogg said his players have managed to keep the success in perspective.
"I haven't heard much talk about being ranked. It's more like 'What's next?'" Kellogg said. "Were fortunate to be 8-0 we've gotten some good teams at the right time."
UMass led by as many as 13 points in the first half before the Cougars cut it to 52-49 two minutes into the second. It was still a three-point game when the Minutemen went on a 10-2 run, getting all 10 points in the paint — six of them from Maxie Esho.
UMass extended the lead to 15 points on Williams' 3-pointer with 7 minutes to play and made it a 17-point game, 90-73, on another 3-pointer from Williams with 5:26 left. The Cougars cut the deficit to 10 points and trailed 96-86 with 1:46 left and began fouling, but they never got closer than nine.
BYU took an 8-3 lead before the Minutemen scored 11 straight points, including Putney's back-to-back 3-pointers. It was 44-39 when UMass scored eight points in a row, using the fast break to take a 52-41 lead into the half.