Bulls Host Toledo In Nationally-Televised MAC Opener Tuesday Night

Davonta Jordan

Buffalo (8-5, 0-0 MAC) vs. Toledo (8-5, 0-0 MAC)
January 2, 2018

Alumni Arena
 - 7:00 pm

Bulls on the Air

Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/TuneIn App

Television - CBS Sports Network

Quick Hits

• The Bulls will begin their 20th season of Mid-American Conference basketball on Tuesday night when the Bulls host Toledo in the league opener.  Buffalo is 7-12 all-time in MAC openers.
• Toledo leads the all-time series 15-8 and this is the second straight year that the Bulls and the Rockets will open conference play against each other.  Toledo won 86-54 last year at Savage Arena.
• Junior CJ Massinburg enters the game with 997 career points as he looks to become the 20th player in school history to record 1,000 career points.  Massinburg will be playing in his 73rd career game, which would make him the seventh fastest UB player to 1,000 and he will be the 13th player to do it in under three full seasons.
• Senior Wes Clark made his Alumni Arena debut on Thursday and he scored a career-high 27 points, besting the 26 he scored while at Missouri against South Carolina.  Clark had 13 of his 27 points in overtime.  Tuesday night will mark Clark's MAC debut.  In his career at Missouri, he played two games against the MAC, facing Western Michigan as a freshman on Dec. 15, 2013 and he played Northern Illinois on Dec. 4, 2015.
• Buffalo concluded non-conference play with an 8-5 record.  The eight victories are the most in non-conference play since 2014-15. Since 2010-11, this is just the third time UB has recorded at least eight non-conference wins.
• The Bulls finished non-conference play having played the seventh toughest schedule in the county according to RPI.  Buffalo's five losses have come to teams that are a combined 56-13 on the year.  Only one loss has come to a team with more than two loses.
• Despite playing the toughest non-conference schedule in the league, UB is second in the MAC averaging 81.1 points per game.  The Bulls have only averaged over 80 points per game once for an entire season back in 1971-72.

The Opponent

• Toledo will begin Mid-American Conference play with an 8-5 record following an impressive 85-72 road win at Penn on Friday, which was Toledo's third straight win. The Rockets opened the season with three straight wins, including a win over St. Josephs.  Toledo has played road games at Syracuse and Kansas during this non conference season.
 
• The Rockets have four players averaging in double figures led by Tre'Shaun Fletcher, who is currently one of the top players in the conference.  Fletcher is averaging 17.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.  Jaelan Sanford is second on the team, averaging 15.9 points, while Nate Navigato is averaging 14.4 points, shooting 44% from three. In all, Toledo has three players wither 40 assists or more during the first 13 games.
 
• Toledo's Willie Jackson and Buffalo's Wes Clark have similar stories leading into today's game.  Both Jack and Clark began their careers at Missouri and both players had to sit out the beginning of the season due to NCAA Eligibility rules.  Clark played in three games prior to the MAC opener, while Jackson has played in four.
 
•  Tod Kowalczyk is in his eighth season as head coach at Toledo.  He led the Rockets to a share of the MAC West crown during the 2012-13 season.   Last season, he coached the Rockets to an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational. He arrived in Toledo after serving as head coach at UW-Green Bay and he was also an assistant coach for 13 years, with his final stint coming at Marquette.
 
Dialing From Long Distance
The Bulls had one of their best games from behind the arc in school history in the loss at nationally-ranked Texas A&M on Dec. 21.  The Bulls hit 17 three-pointers in the game, second in school history, and the most since hitting 18 against Troy State on Feb. 22, 1996 when UB went 18-for-40 in the contest.
 
Buffalo shot 17-of-39 from behind the arc against the Aggies as four players hit at least three triples, led by a career-high six three pointers from CJ Massinburg. Senior Wes Clark and juniors Jeremy Harris and Montell McRae each hit three.  McRae was a perfect 3-of-3. The 17 three's made by the Bulls were the most by a MAC school against a Division I opponent this year.  UB leads the MAC in threes made per game, averaging 10.2 made triples per contest.
 
Wild, Wild Wes
The Bulls got a huge boost to their lineup prior to the Syracuse game on Dec. 19 as senior Wes Clark was cleared to play by the NCAA, marking his first collegiate game since February 13, 2016 when he played for Missouri.  Clark, who joined UB last January, has been practicing with Buffalo since then, but he was finally able to play in his first game at Syracuse.
 
Clark scored 15 points and had six assists in his UB debut, picking up the start and playing 34 minutes. Clark added 17 points and eight assists against Texas A&M.  Clark scored 27 points in his Alumni Arena debut on Dec. 29, scoring 13 of those points in the overtime period.  It was a new career high for Clark as he scored 26 against South Carolina, while playing for Missouri.
 
He played his high school basketball for Buffalo head coach Nate Oats at Romulus High School right outside of Detroit, MI. 
 
Mass Production
After getting off to a slow start against Canisius, junior CJ Massinburg was the best player on the court for the Bulls in the win over Jacksonville St.  He led the Bulls in all three major categories as he finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.  Massinburg scored 29 points against nationally-ranked Cincinnati, his second highest scoring total of his career, while adding 10 rebounds, the first double-digit rebounding performance of the season for UB.  Massinburg was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Cayman Classic.  Massinburg added 25 points in the win over Niagara and 21 points against St. Bonaventure.  Massinburg was named the MAC East Player of the Week following those games against the Big 4, earning that honor for the first time in his career. 
 
Massinburg had his second career 30-point game on Dec. 6 at Delaware as he finished with 30 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.  Massinburg has five 20-point games so far this year.  He recorded his third straight double-double in the win over Robert Morris with 23 points and 10 rebounds, earning his second MAC weekly honor.   In his homecoming to Texas, Massinburg led the Bulls with 20 points and eight rebounds, hitting a career high six three-pointers, against nationally-ranked Texas A&M.  Massinburg had his eighth 20-point games against NJIT and he is just three points shy of 1,000 for his career.  Massinburg is looking to be the seventh fastest player to 1,000 points in school history.
 
Sophomore Sensation
It can be argued that sophomore Davonta Jordan is one of the most improved players in the nation from last season and that was capped off with his first career 20-point game at Delaware.  Jordan averaged just 2.5 points per game last year, but this season he is averaging 8.9 points per game.  Through the first 13 games, Jordan has 116 points, already surpassing the 76 he scored all of last year.  He has 11 three-pointers, nine more than last year.  On the glass, he averaged 1.8 rebounds last season and this year he is averaging 3.1.
 
Jordan is currently ninth in the league in assists at 3.7 assists per game.
 
Leading The Charge
Head coach Nate Oats begins his third year on the Buffalo sidelines, having comprised a record of 37-30 during his first two years.  He is the only coach in UB school history to record 20 wins in his first season as a head coach and his 37 wins in his first two years are the second most by a UB coach behind only Bobby Hurley, who had 42 wins over his first two years.  
 
Oats surpassed his predecessor on Dec. 9 vs. Central Penn as he picked up his 43rd win in his 76th game as head coach. With 45 career wins, Oats is just four away from moving up to seventh on UB's career coaching list.
 
Deuces Wild
One the most of anticipated newcomers will wear #2 on the Buffalo team is junior college transfer Jeremy Harris, who came to UB from Gulf Coast College, where he was ranked as the second best junior college player in the nation by JUCORecruiting.com.
 
Harris led the Bulls with 21 points and added 10 rebounds in the overtime contest against Rhode Island in the charity exhibition.  He had a stretch for the Bulls where he scored eight straight points, erasing an eight-point deficit on his own.  He led the team with 17 shots taken, but also added three assists and three steals. Harris recorded double doubles in both exhibition games as he added 13 points and 11 rebounds against Daemen.  Harris had a pair of 17-point games during the Cayman Classic as he recorded double figures in scoring in all three games.  He had17 points and six rebounds against nationally-ranked Cincinnati and added 17 points and four assists in the win over UAB. He had 11 points and five assists against South Dakota State.  His best game so far came against Niagara as he finished with a career-high 23 points, going 5-of-8 from three-point range.  He also added seven rebounds and six assists. Harris recorded his first career double-double against Central Penn and added 14 points and nine rebounds in the win over Robert Morris.
 
In The Nick Of Time
Junior Nick Perkins got off to a fast start to the 2017-18 season as the Ypsilanti, MI native had a career-high 26 points in the season-opening win over Canisius.  The 26 points were the most by a UB player in a season opener since Nikolai Alexeev had 26 against Niagara on November 19, 1999. 
 
Perkins came off the bench for the first time this season against Syracuse and he ended up leading the Bulls in scoring with 18 points, while also pulling down seven rebounds, including six offensive ones.  Perkins has had some of his best games against Power 5 competition.  In addition to 18 against Syracuse on Dec. 19, Perkins had 20 points as a freshman against Miami (FL) in the NCAA Tournament, and last season he added 23 points at Pitt. He added 17 points against SEC foe Texas A&M.
 
Get Smart
Junior Ikenna Smart made his season debut on Saturday against Robert Morris after missing the first nine games of the season due to a back injury.  Playing in his 67th career game, Smart recorded a new career high in scoring with 12 points as he went a perfect 6-of-6 from the field in 21 minutes of action.  Smart was relentless on the offensive glass as he had six rebounds in total, four of those coming on the offensive end.
 
Cleveland Is The Reason
A native of Cleveland, OH Montell McRae is the new man in the middle for the Bulls. A transfer from South Plains Junior College, the same school as former UB player David Kadiri.
 
In the exhibition against Rhode Island, McRae had 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, while adding an assist, three blocks, and a steal. McRae had 10 points in the win over Jacksonville State for his first regular season double figures performance. He scored a new career high with 13 points against Central Penn.  McRae went a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc against Texas A&M on Dec. 21.
 
McRae was part of a South Plains team ranked first nationally for much of the season as they went 32-2 last year.
 
Reese Lightning
Freshman James Reese has already ignited the Buffalo crowd prior to even playing his first regular season game with the Bulls. It began over the summer, when Reese made national headlines for his dunks at the UB team camp, showing up on media outlets across the country.
 
Reese's athleticism extends to just his dunking and he made a strong impression in the charity exhibition against Rhode Island as he had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc.  Reese's best game so far this year has been against South Dakota State where he recorded seven point and four rebounds.  Reese also had seven points against St. Bonaventure.  He picked up his first career start at Delaware and in the win over Central Penn, Reese had a career-best 18 points, while adding six rebounds and six assists.
 
Reese was named the State Player of the Year in South Carolina as he played his ball for A.C. Flora where he won two state titles, leading his team to a  21-2 record during his senior season.  He averaged 25.0 points per game during the year.
 
Luck Of The Irish
Freshman Jayvon Graves comes to Buffalo from one of the most well known high schools in the country in the St.Vincent-St. Mary's out of Akron, OH, the same high school as NBA MVP and World Champion, LeBron James.  Nicknamed the Fighting Irish, Graves and his high school teammates won the Ohio State Championship last season and Graves was named the Ohio State Player of the Year.
 
He had three points against Rhode Island, draining a three-pointer. Graves had a strong second half against Daemen and nearly put up a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.  Graves finished with nine points and four rebounds in the win over UAB.  He added seven second half points against Delaware, while also pulling down six rebounds.  Graves scored 11 points, while adding six rebounds in the win over Central Penn. He had his second straight double-digit performance with 10 points against Robert Morris.
 
Giving 100%
The Bulls hit the magical 100-point number for the first time this season during their 106-87 victory at Niagara.  The 106 points tied the school record for points scored in a road game, matching the total from March 2, 1974 at Rochester.  It was only the fourth time ever that Buffalo had scored triple figures in a road game and it was the most points in a road game since a 100-92 win at Chicago State on November 21, 2001.
 
Bulls Picked To Win MAC East
The University at Buffalo men's basketball team has been picked to win the Mid-American Conference East Division and received nine tournament championship votes, second most in the league, it was announced by the league office in their annual preseason poll voted on by a panel of all 12 MAC head coaches and 18 media members.
 
The Bulls, who are led by third-year head coach Nate Oats, received 166 points and 24 of the 30 first place votes in the East Division to finish atop the preseason poll.  This is the second time that Buffalo has been picked as the preseason winner of the MAC East and the first time since prior to the 2004-05 season.  Buffalo also received nine votes to win the 2018 MAC Tournament Championship, just one behind Western Michigan.