Bulls Face Marquette In Nationally-Ranked Affair

Nate Oats & Ronaldo Segu

#14/#15 Buffalo (11-0) at Marquette (9-2)
December 21, 2018

Fiserv Forum
 - 8:30 pm ET

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Opening Tip

• Coming off their first victory over Syracuse in 55 years, the Bulls look to enter Christmas break on a high note Friday night at Marquette.  The Bulls have won 11 straight games to open the season as Buffalo is currently ranked 14th in the AP poll and #15 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. 
• The Bulls defeated Syracuse 71-59 on Friday night.  The 12-point win for the Bulls was largest by non-Power 5 team over Syracuse since David Robinson's Navy team defeated the Orange 97-85 in the 1986 NCAA Tournament.
• Buffalo is 11-0 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 11-0 since Toledo in the 2013-14 season when the Rockets were 12-0 to begin the year, a number the Bulls are gunning for Friday night. 
• As of Thursday morning, the Bulls had jumped to #10 in the latest NET rankings, their highest position of the year. Buffalo is one of just three teams nationally to be undefeated on the road when having played at least four true road games (Furman & UC Irvine).
• Senior CJ Massinburg moved into fifth place on UB's all-time scoring list on Tuesday night.  He now has 1,533 career points and 613 career rebounds, joining Javon McRea and Yassin Idbihi as the only three players in school history with 1,500 points and 600 boards. Massinburg is only 6-3!

The Opponent

• Marquette is 9-2 on the season and has won six straight games, including a 92-66 win over North Dakota on Tuesday evening.  Friday will mark the sixth straight home game for the Golden Eagles, who have played just one true road game all season, and that was a 96-73 loss at Indiana.  Marquette has played two neutral site games as part of the NIT season tip-off. 
• Marquette features one of the most dynamic point guards in the country in Markus Howard, who is averaging 23.2 points per game, while also leading the Golden Eagles with 50 assists.  He is one of two players on the team with at least 40 assists on the year.  Sam Hauser is second on the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game, while leading them with 6.8 rebounds per contest, while his brother Joey Hauser is averaging 10.2 points per contest.
• Marquette was picked to finish second in the preseason poll for the BIG EAST as they received 70 points and one first place vote.  Defending national champion Villanova was picked to win the league with 79 points and eight of the 10 first place votes.
•  The 2018-19 campaign will mark the fifth at Marquette University for head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who has enjoyed a wealth of success in collegiate basketball as both a player and a coach. The Golden Eagles competed in the postseason for the second-straight year in 2017-18, advancing to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT)after playing in the NCAA tournament in 2016-17. Wojciechowski had previously served as an assistant coach at Duke since the 1999-2000 season and was promoted to associate head coach in the summer of 2008. As a player and coach, he was a part of Duke's winning tradition, serving on the coaching staff for two NCAA tournament champions. During his tenure, the Blue Devils posted an incredible 441-92.
Bulls Face Marquette In Nationally-Ranked Affair
For the first time in program history the Bulls will face a nationally-ranked opponent, while they are ranked themselves, Friday night when UB heads to #20 Marquette.  The Bulls are 11-0 and one of just nine undefeated teams left in the nation as of Thursday morning.  Buffalo is coming off of a 71-59 win at Syracuse on Tuesday evening, their first win over the Orange in over 55 years. Friday night is Buffalo's second to last non-conference game and their final one before a brief Christmas break.
Marquette is 9-2 on the season, having won eight of those game at home. While this will be the fifth true road game of the year already for the Bulls, Marquette has played just one game in an opposing team's arena, a 96-73 loss at Indiana.
Friday night will mark the first meeting between the two schools and just the 11th time ever that Buffalo has played a school currently in the BIG EAST. Since the BIG EAST was founded in 1979, the Bulls have never defeated a current BIG EAST member. The last time the Bulls played a game in the state of Wisconsin was Dec. 28, 2014 against Wisconsin.  The Badgers played in the Final Four that year.
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.  No MAC team has been in the polls for six 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  had a game-high 25 points against Syracuse as he moved into fifth place on UB's all-time scoring list with 1,533 career points.  Next up on the list for Massinburg is Mike Martinho (1994-98), who had 1,708 points in his career.  Massinburg is one of just three players in school history with over 1,500 career points and 600 career rebounds, joining Javon McRea and Yassin Idbihi. 
Monumental Wins Highlight Non-Conference Season
The Bulls opened their road schedule with one of the 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.
Buffalo added to their early season resume with their 71-59 win over Syracuse on Dec. 18.  The 12-point win for the Bulls was the largest margin of victory against Syracuse by a non Power-5 team since Navy did so during the 1986 NCAA Tournament.  For the Bulls, it was their first ever in the Carrier Dome, which wasn't built until 1980, and their first win over the Orange since 1963.
The Bulls also have an in-season tournament title to their credit as they won the Belfast Hall of Fame Classic with wins over Milwaukee and San Francisco.  To date, Buffalo is the only loss for San Francisco as the Dons are 11-1 on the season, including a win over PAC-12 member, California. 
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 114 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.  He earned MAC Player of the Week honors again following his 20-point, 11-rebound game over Southern Illinois and Perkins then had his second straight double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds at Syracuse. He now has 1,393 points for his career, good for 9th place in school history in career scoring.  He is 10 points shy of moving into eighth place, surpassing Sam Pellom.  
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.
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 only hit multiple threes in a game once over the first four games, but he has hit multiple three pointers in a game in five of the last seven contests  
Crossing Jordan
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.
Jordan leads the Bulls with 15 charges drawn this season, taking four in the win over Southern Illinois.  He also had 11 points in the game, all in the second half. Jordan added 10 points in the win over Syracuse, including knocking down a pair of second half three pointers.
Dontay's Inferno
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.
Graves Digger
Sophomore Jayvon Graves is averaging 9.9 points per game through the first 11 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 6.5 points per game through the first 11 contests for UB, including going 13-of-25 from three-point range.  After shooting under 30% from three last year, McRae has been the most improved shooter on the team, shooting .520 from behind the arc.  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.