By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The La Salle University men’s basketball team is up in Amherst, Massachusetts for a Wednesday night Atlantic 10 match-up with UMass.

The Explorers are 7-9 (1-2 A-10) and coming off an 80-74 loss to VCU on Saturday. The Explorers started the game on a 15-0 run and led by eight at the break. But VCU was too much in the second half as the Rams shot 54% from the field over the game’s final 20 minutes.

“They’re good,” La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini tells KYW Newsradio about VCU. “We got [redshirt senior forward B.J. Johnson] back, but the last three weeks he has not played basketball. He’s done drills but he has not played basketball. I would guess he was kind of 80 percent-ish of his normal self the first half. But he was almost 0 percent the second half.”


Johnson has been battling an ankle injury over the last several weeks. He scored 15 points against VCU, with 11 coming in the first half.

“Moving forward,” Giannini says, “we have to come up with a plan to kind of manage his minutes because he clearly, through no fault of his own, just isn’t in position to play at his normal level for extended minutes. So it’s almost like we’ve got to do the Joel Embiid-type thing, just for a little while, until he gets back to his normal self.”

UMass is 8-8 this season and 1-2 in the A-10. The Minutemen play their best basketball in Amherst where they have won seven of nine games.

“They are really good at home,” Giannini says. “They convincingly beat really good Providence and Georgia teams at home. So we’ll have our hands full. The kid [sophomore Luwane] Pitkins is a terrific, speedy point guard. They play good defense.”

These two teams split their two meetings last season.

Wednesday night’s game tips off at 7:00pm.