Dec 14, 2018
#14/#15 Buffalo (9-0) vs. Southern Illinois (7-4)
December 15, 2018
Alumni Arena - 2:00 pm
Bulls on the Air
Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/WHTK 1280 AM Rochester/TuneIn App
Television - ESPN+
• Winners of nine straight, Buffalo looks for their 17th straight win at home, dating back to last season, when the Bulls host Southern Illinois at Alumni Arena. The 16 straight home wins by Buffalo is currently the seventh longest streak in the nation. Saturday will mark the second meeting this season between the Bulls and the Salukis with Buffalo claiming a 62-53 win in Carbondale back on Nov. 12. Seniors Montell McRae and Jeremy Harris led Buffalo in scoring with 11 points each during the first meeting.
• Buffalo is 9-0 on the season, its best start to a year since 1930-31 when they went undefeated with a perfect 15-0 record. UB is the first MAC team to have started a season 9-0 since Toledo in the 2013-14 season when the Rockets were 12-0 to begin the year. Buffalo is the first Big 4 team to start a season 9-0 since St. Bonaventure and Niagara both did it in the 1969-70 season.
• Buffalo is one of just nine undefeated teams remaining in the country, joining Kansas, Michigan, Texas Tech, Virginia, Houston, Furman, St. John's, and Nevada. Of that group, Buffalo and Furman are the only two to win at least three true road games.
• Director of Basketball Operations Adam Bauman is a 2008 graduate of Southern Illinois. While in Carbondale, the Salukis made three NCAA Tournament appearances including a Sweet 16 run in 2007; and one appearance in the NIT in 2008.
• Southern Illinois is 7-4 on the season and the Salukis recently had a five-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday night with an 80-52 loss to Murray State. Southern Illinois hung tight with Kentucky to open the season and has impressive wins over Tulsa, Saint Louis, and at Colorado State. The Salukis are currently 3-1 on the road this year with the only road loss at Kentucky.
• Southern Illinois has five players averaging in double figures, but their leading scorer Armon Fletcher has played in just six of the 11 games, including missing the first contest against the Bulls. In those six games, Fletcher is averaging 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Aaron Cook has started all 11 games for SIU and is averaging 12.5 points per game, while leading the team with 39 assists.
• The Salukis were picked to finish in third place in the preseason poll for the Missouri Valley Conference behind Loyola Chicago and Illinois State. Southern Illinois received four first place votes in the preseason MVC Poll.
• With 15 seasons as the head coach at two Missouri Valley Conference schools (Missouri State and Southern Illinois), Barry Hinson is the Dean of the MVC and ranks fourth all-time in overall wins (268) and MVC wins (145). The Salukis have posted three-straight winning seasons under Hinson, including a 20-13 mark in 2018. Picked to finish fifth, the team placed second with an 11-7 league record. In 2016, SIU achieved a 22-10 record, a season in which Hinson was named the MVC Coach of the Year. Hinson was named the school's basketball head coach during a press conference on March 28, 2012. He became just the 13th head coach in the 99-year history of the program. Hinson served four years on Bill Self's staff at the University of Kansas from 2008-12. Hinson spent eight years as a high school coach in Oklahoma before landing a college job on Self's staff at Oral Roberts in 1993.
Bulls Host Southern Illinois For Final Non-Conference Home Game
Buffalo will welcome Southern Illinois to Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon as the Bulls will play their final non-conference home game and their last home contest of 2018, trying to wrap up a perfect calendar year in Alumni Arena. Buffalo has won 16 straight games at home, the seventh longest streak in the nation. South Dakota State leads the nation with 26 straight home wins and Houston is second with 22. Also ahead of UB is Charleston, Montana, Utah Valley, and Nebraska.
This is the second time this season that Buffalo and Southern Illinois have played with UB coming away with a 62-53 win in Carbondale on Nov. 12. The 53 points scored by SIU are the second lowest they have scored this year. Buffalo and SIU are the second MAC and MVC duo to play a home and home this year as Ball State and Evansville also played twice this year, with each team winning at home. The last time Buffalo hosted a team from the Missouri Valley conference was against Evansville, when the Purple Aces came to Alumni Arena on Dec. 1, 2007.
UB In the National Rankings
Buffalo has become the 10th different MAC program to be ranked in the national AP poll in their history. All schools have been ranked at least once, except Akron and Central Michigan, however since 2000, only Kent State and Ball State have found their way into the national rankings. The Golden Flashes were the last program to do it, as they were ranked #23 in 2008, while Ball State spent four weeks in the polls during the 2001-02 season, peaking at #15. They also spent four weeks in the polls during the 1988-89 season, including finishing the year 18th in the country. No MAC team has been in the polls for five consecutive weeks or longer since Western Michigan during the 1975-76 season.
Three MAC programs have been in the Top 10 in their program's history as Bowling Green was seventh back during the 1961-62 season. Toledo, who has spent 22 weeks in the Top 25 in their history, was ninth in 1963-64, and Ohio has the highest ranking ever by a MAC school as they were fifth for two weeks in 1969-70. Bowling Green holds the MAC record for most weeks in the polls in one season with 11 during the 1961-62 campaign.
As for Western New York programs in the Big 4, Canisius was ranked for 11 weeks during the 1956-57 season, while Niagara has spent 20 weeks in the polls, most recently in the 1969-70 season. St. Bonaventure has had the most success in the AP Poll as they have spent 82 weeks ranked over their history, ranking as high at #2 in the country. The last time they were ranked was during the 1970-71 season nearly 48 years ago.
I'm A Man, I'm 40!
Senior CJ Massinburg has done it all so far through the non-conference portion of his final season as he had a career night in the win at nationally-ranked West Virgina as he scored 43 points and 14 rebounds. His 43 points are the sixth highest total by a player in the nation this year.
Massinburg is only the second player to surpass the 40-point mark against a Bob Huggins coached team at West Virginia and he is the first to do it since Andrew Wiggins of Kansas had 41 points on March 8, 2014. He is just the 10th player in that time frame to have at least 14 rebounds in a game against West Virginia and the first to do it from the guard position.
Massinburg then recorded the first triple-double of his career and just the second in school history in the win over Le Moyne as he had 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists against the Dolphins. The triple double was the first for a UB player at Alumni Arena and the first since Shannon Evans had one at Binghamton on Dec. 30, 2014. Massinburg is one of 15 players in the nation this year with a triple double.
Massinburg currently has 1,494 career points, which is sixth all-time in school history as he passed Turner Battle (2001-05) in the game at Southern Illinois. Next up on the list is Yassin Idbihi (2003-2007) who is in fifth place with 1,514 points.
Bulls Take Down Mountaineers In Morgantown
The Bulls are coming off one of their best wins in school history as they defeated West Virginia on Nov. 9 in the first road of the year, 99-94, in overtime. It was UB's first ever road win over a team in the top 25 as the Mountaineers entered the game ranked 13th. Over the last four years, Buffalo is the only non-Big 12 team to come into Morgantown and leave with a win over West Virginia while they have been ranked in the Top 25. Dating back to 2011-12, the only other unranked non-conference opponent to go into Morgantown and leave with a win while West Virginia was ranked was LSU as they came away with a 74-73 win on Dec. 4, 2014. Also dating back to 2011-12, no opponent has scored more points against West Virginia than the 99 scored by UB.
Bulls Unanimous Selection To Win MAC East
For the second straight season, the Bulls have been the preseason pick to win the MAC East Division and this season the Bulls were a unanimous selection, getting all 35 first place votes and 210 point. They are the first MAC program since Ball State in 2002 to receive over 200 points. Buffalo also received 25 of the 35 votes to win the MAC Tournament.
Buffalo had three selections on the preseason All-MAC East Team in CJ Massinburg, Nick Perkins, and Jeremy Harris. UB is the first MAC program ever to have three players on the preseason all-league team. All three players were also named preseason All-Big 4 First Team players with Massinburg the preseason selection as the Big 4 Player of the Year.
I Love The 80's
Last season the Bulls averaged 84.6 points per game, the highest scoring total in school history for a single season. UB scored 80 points in 26 of its 36 games last season, which was tied for the second most 80-point performances with Duke. Villanova was the only team in the country with more 80-point performances at 29.
No other MAC team had more than 16 80-point games last season and that was Central Michigan and Toledo. As for MAC East programs, Buffalo's 26 performances are more than double any team in the division as Ohio was second with 12 80-point games.
Buffalo continued right where it left off in the season opener, scoring 82 points in the win over St. Francis and 99 points against West Virginia. UB exploded for 110 points in the victory over Dartmouth and had over 80 points in each of the two games in Ireland, including 96 against Milwaukee. The Bulls have now scored 80 or more points 61 times in the 112 games with Nate Oats as head coach. The Bulls are 53-8 in those games when scoring at least 80 points.
History On The Horizon
The Bulls are looking to accomplish something this season that has never been done in Mid-American Conference history as no MAC school has ever won four conference tournament titles in a five-year period. Buffalo became the first MAC school to win three in a four-year period since Kent State did it in 1999, 2001, 2002. The MAC Tournament dates back to the 1979-80 season.
Perks And Recreation
Senior Nick Perkins was named the Most Valuable Player at the Belfast Classic and was named the MAC East Co-Player of the Week following back-to-back 20 point performances against Milwaukee and San Francisco. Perkins now has 1,363 points for his career, good for 10th place in school history in career scoring. He is 25 points shy of Louis Campbell for ninth place in school history.
Perkins was named first-team All-MAC last season and he was named the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year for the second straight season. Perkins scored in double figures in 25 straight games last year after returning to the bench. Over the previous two years, Perkins has scored 20 points or more nine times as a reserve, the sixth highest totally nationally.
Perkins was Buffalo's leading scorer in MAC games last season as he averaged 18.2 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per contest. Perkins shot 53.2% from the floor and on two-point attempts only, his field goal percentage was 60%.
The Harris Poll
Senior Jeremy Harris had a breakout year for the Bulls last season in his first season with the Blue and White. Harris was a second-team All-MAC selection as he averaged 15.5 points per game, including 17.4 points per contest in league games only. Over the 18-game MAC season, Harris led the league in three-point shooting at .463. Harris was one of just 11 players in the nation to shoot over 46% from three in conference games, while attempting over 100 three-pointers. He joins Pat Andree from Lehigh as the only two to do it, while also pulling in over 100 rebounds.
Harris began the season slowly from three-point range as he didn't hit more than two threes in any of the first five games, but over the last four games, Harris has shot at least 42% from three-point range in three of those four games, including going 4-of-5 against LeMoyne. Overall, Harris is shooting 11-of-25 from three over those four game, shooting 44%.
One of the most improved players in the entire Mid-American Conference last season was junior point guard Davonta Jordan. After averaging under 3.0 points per game during his freshman season, Jordan averaged 6.5 points per game last year as a sophomore, while adding 144 assists, the most on the team. Through two years, Jordan is the only player in the Mid-American Conference to record 200 career assists over his freshman and sophomore seasons. He is currently UB's active career leader in assists with 229.
Jordan picked up his scoring last year, including his first career 20-point performance, which came in a win at Delaware. Defensively, Jordan was selected to the All-MAC Defensive Team as well. Jordan had 16 points in the win over Dartmouth on 8-of-12 shooting, while also adding four assists in the win. He recorded a season high seven assists against St. Bonaventure.
UB's senior guard Dontay Caruthers is one of the top defenders in the Mid-American Conference as he was named the 2016-17 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, but last season, Caruthers played in just 25 games, missing 11 with a leg injury. When playing, Caruthers averaged 6.7 points per game, including a pair of 20-point performances.
Overall, Caruthers shot .598 from the floor, which was the best of any player on the Bulls that took over 100 shots.
Caruthers has given the Bulls a huge lift this season on both sides of the ball, capped off by his 20-point performance against Le Moyne where he was 7-of-8 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Sophomore Jayvon Graves is averaging 11.6 points per game through the first nine contests, which is fourth on the team. He scored 14 points in the win over West Virginia, including a few monster dunks right over the Big 12 caliber foes while tying his career high against Dartmouth with 16 points, making his first appearance on Sportscenter's Top plays this season. He added 16 more points in the win over Marist, tying his career high with four three pointers. Graves recorded a new career high with 19 points in the win over St. Bonaventure, knocking down a new career best five three-pointers.
The Real McRae
Senior Montell McRae is averaging 7.3 points per game through the first nine contests for UB, including going 11-of-20 from three-point range. After shooting under 30% from three last year, McRae has been the most improved shooter on the team, shooting .550 from behind the arc, which leads the MAC. McRae had 11 points in the win over Southern Illinois, while adding eight more in the victory over Dartmouth. He had eight points and 10 boards against Milwaukee and went 3-for-3 from three-point range and had 11 points in the win over San Francisco.