Jan 15, 2018
Buffalo (12-5, 4-0 MAC) vs. Northern Illinois (9-8, 2-2 MAC)
January 16, 2018
Alumni Arena - 7:00 pm
Bulls on the Air
Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/TuneIn App
Television - ESPN3
• The Bulls look to build on their perfect MAC record on Tuesday night when Buffalo hosts Northern Illinois at Alumni Arena. UB has won its first four conference games by an average of 17.0 points per game. Overall, UB has won five in a row entering Tuesday's game.
• The last time UB started 5-0 in conference play was in 1997-98, its final year in the Mid-Continent Conference..
• The Bulls lead the all-time series over Northern Illinois, 19-13, and UB has dominated over the last decade. Buffalo has won 12 straight meetings with the Huskies, with NIU's last win coming in overtime in DeKalb on Jan. 7, 2006. In games played in Buffalo, UB has won 10 straight at Alumni Arena with NIU's last victory in Western New York occurring on Feb. 6, 2003.
• Tuesday's meeting will match up the top two scorers in the Mid-American Conference in NIU's Eugene German and UB's CJ Massinburg. German is averaging 19.9 points per game and has scored 19 or more points in four of his last five games. Massinburg is averaging 18.7 points and has scored 20 or more nine times this season. Massinburg is also fourth in the MAC in rebounding at 8.3 per game.
• It will be a contrast of styles on Tuesday night as Northern Illinois will come to Buffalo as the league's top scoring defense in MAC play, allowing just 67.8 points per game. Buffalo will enter the game as the league's top scoring offense, averaging 89.0 points per game in MAC play.
• The Bulls have won their last four games by doubles figures and are looking to win five straight games by double figures for the first time since the 2003-04 season, when they won five straight by 10 or more points during an eight-game winning streak.
• Head coach Nate Oats picked up his 49th career victory on Saturday afternoon, putting him in a tie for seventh on UB's all-time wins list with V. William Hughes (1979-82). Oats is one win shy of 50 for his career, and he would be the fourth fastest Buffalo coach to do it, and the quickest in the Modern Era.
• Northern Illinois enters Tuesday night's game with a 9-8 record and a 2-2 mark in MAC play following a 72-66 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies have been really good at home going 7-1 in the Convocation Center, but they are just 2-7 in games away from DeKalb.
• The Huskies have the leading scorer in the MAC in Eugene German, who is averaging 19.9 points per game, shooting just under 47% from the floor. Levi Bradley is second on the team averaging 14.5 points, while he is also the team's leading rebounder at 6.2 boards per contest. Dante Thorpe is averaging 11.8 points. German, Thorpe, and Justin Thomas all have over 30 assists on the year.
• Through four conference games, Northern Illinois is the MAC's leading scoring defense at 67.8 points per game, but this will be their biggest challenge so far as Buffalo is top scoring offense, averaging 89.0 points per game. German is second in the league in scoring in conference play at 20.0 points per game.
• In 24 seasons in college basketball, as a player and a head coach, Mark Montgomery has been a part of 15 postseason teams. In six seasons as head coach at NIU, Montgomery rebuilt a program that had produced just two winning seasons in the 15 years prior to his arrival and led it to just its fourth-ever postseason appearance, and the second-most wins in school history. In 2015-16, Montgomery guided NIU to 21 victories, tied for the second-most in school history, while taking the Huskies to the postseason for just the fourth time in school history, and the first time in 20 years, as NIU accepted an invitation to the Vegas 16. During his 10 seasons on Hall of Famer Tom Izzo's staff at Michigan State from 2001-12, the Spartans made 10 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament and three Final Four appearances.
I Love The 80's
The Bulls are averaging 82.9 points per game this season, which leads the Mid-American Conference and is 30th nationally. In conference games only, Buffalo is averaging 89.0 points per game. Only once in the school's history have they averaged over 80.0 points for an entire season and that was 1971-72.
Currently the Bulls have scored at least 80 points in five straight games, the first time UB has done that since February of 1974. If the Bulls score more than 80 on Tuesday night, it will be the first time they have done it in six straight games since the 1970-71 season.
Junior CJ Massinburg became the newest member of the 1,000-point club in the MAC opener against Toledo as he scored 27 points against the Rockets. Massinburg is the 20th player to score 1,000 points for the Bulls and he is the seventh fastest to do so, achieving it in his 73rd career game, which is quicker than previous MAC Players of the Year Turner Battle, Mitchell Watt, and all-time leading scorer, Javon McRea.
After scoring just eight points in the opener, Massinburg has scored double figures in each of the last 15 games, scoring at least 20 points nine times. He scored 30 at Delaware, the second time in his career he has done that. Twice this year, Massinburg has been named the MAC East Player of the Week and he is currently second in the MAC in scoring at 18.7 points per game. Massinburg is also UB's leading rebounder on the season, as he is averaging 8.3 boards per contest, which is fourth in the league. He has a team-high seven double-doubles on the year, including recording a career-high 14 boards at Delaware. The seven double-doubles are tied for second most in the Mid-American Conference. He was most recently named to the watch list for the Lou Henson Award, which is awarded to the nation's top mid major player.
Massinburg is tied for16th on the all-time scoring list with Mitchell Watt at 1,061 career points. Massinburg is just four points shy of Harold Kuhn for 15th place on the list.
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.
Clark had 25 points and five assists in the win over Toledo, and he is averaging 16.7 points and 5.8 assists over his first six games.
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. Perkins had his first double-double of the year with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Toledo. He recorded back-to-back double-doubles following his 15 points and 11 rebounds at Ball State. Perkins has now come off the bench in seven straight games and he is averaging 17.1 points per game in those contests. Perkins was named the MAC East Player of the Week following back-to-back wins to open conference play where he averaged 19.5 point and 10.5 rebounds. He currently leads UB in scoring in MAC play at 17.8 per game.
One the most of anticipated newcomers is wearing #2 on the Buffalo team and that 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.
Harris had a big afternoon against Ball State as he finished with 16 points in the win over the Cardinals. He followed that up by scoring a game-high 17 points in the win at Akron. Harris continued his tear through MAC play as he tied his career high with 23 points in the win over Miami, recording his second double-double as he had 10 rebounds. Following the wins over Akron and Miami Harris was named the MAC East Player of the Week, the third straight week UB has done it with three different players.
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.
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 9.4 points per game. Through the first 17 games, Jordan has 143 points, already surpassing the 76 he scored all of last year. He has 11 three-pointers, nine more than last year. Jordan had 15 points in the win over Toledo, and he added eight points and four assists in the win over Akron.
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 49 career wins, Oats is tied with V. William Hughes (1978-82) for seventh place on the all-time wins list. He is looking to become the fourth fast UB head coach to 50 wins and the quickest in UB's Modern Era.
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.
For the first time since the 1997-98 season, the Bulls hit 100 points in multiple games in the same season following their 104-94 win against Toledo in the MAC opener. The 104 points were the second most scored by UB in a MAC game and their most ever in regulation of a MAC contest. While the Bulls have already scored 100 or more twice against D-I schools, the rest of the league combined only has one 100-point performance against a D-I opponent.
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.
Graves recorded a career high 16 points in the win at Ball State as he went 5-for-8 from the field, including 4-of-5 from behind the arc. He added 11 points in his homecoming at Akron and is now averaging 10.8 points per game in conference play.
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. Playing close to his hometown of Cleveland, McRae had a big night at Akron as he finished with 11 points and five rebounds, including four on the offensive end.