Bulls Close Out Non-Conference Play At Canisius

Jayvon Graves at Marquette

#21/#22 Buffalo (11-1) at Canisius (3-7)
December 29, 2018

Koessler Athletic Center
 - 7:00 pm

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Opening Tip

• Having just had their 11-game winning streak snapped last Friday, the #21 Buffalo Bulls will close out non-conference play on Saturday evening at Big 4 rival, Canisius.  UB will become the first ever nationally ranked team to play inside the Koessler Athletic Center as all the other ranked games against Canisius have taken place downtown.  Buffalo and Canisius have not meet at the KAC since Nov. 20, 2012.
• Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon was the head coach at Buffalo from 1999-2013.  He is second all-time in wins with 198 and he is the only other UB head coach other than current head man Nate Oats, to earned MAC Coach of the Year honors.
• Despite suffering their first loss of the year, the Bulls remained in the AP Top 25 rankings, checking in at #21 in the latest poll. This is the seventh straight week the Bulls have been ranked, the longest stretch by a MAC team since the 1975-76 Western Michigan Broncos were also in their for seven weeks. No MAC team has been ranked for eight or more weeks since Ohio in 1969-70.
• With a win on Saturday evening, Buffalo will finish with its first one-loss non-conference season since the 2005-06 season when UB went 10-1 in its early non-league play.  Overall, the 2005-06 squad was the last team to start the year 11-1. Buffalo's lone loss during that stretch was at Boston College the third game of the year.

The Opponent

• Canisius is 3-7 on the season and coming off a 65-63 loss to Holy Cross last Thursday.  This will mark just the third home game of the year for the Griffs, who are 1-1 at the KAC, most recently defeating Robert Morris on Dec. 5.  Canisius opened the year with an impressive 82-73 win at Bucknell, but then proceeded to lose six straight before a two-game winning streak, which was snapped at Holy Cross.
 
• Takal Molson leads Canisius with 16.5 points per game as he has done an excellent job getting to the free throw line, hitting 49-of-60 from the charity stripe.  Issiah Reese is second on the team in scoring with 11.1 points per game, while adding a team-high 5.6 rebounds per contest and 34 assists per game.
 
• Canisius was picked to finish in second place in the preseason MAAC poll, receiving 105 points.  They were just behind Rider, who was the unanimous selection to win the lead.  Isaiah Reese and Takal Molson were both preseason all-league selections for Canisius.
 
• Reggie Witherspoon, a Buffalo native and a 21-year veteran of the college basketball coaching ranks, was named the 24th head coach in Canisius College men's basketball history on May 28, 2016.  Last season, Canisius went 21-12 and earned a postseason bid for the second straight year, playing in the CBI. In 2016-17. Canisius won 18 games, including a seven-game winning streak, making an appearance in the CIT.  Witherspoon was the head coach at UB from 1999-2013 and he was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2012. He is second in school history in career wins with 198. Witherspoon spent the 2015-16 season at Chattanooga, where he led the Mocs to a 29-6 overall record, a Southern Conference regular-season championship, a SoCon tourney title and the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009. Prior to his time with Chattanooga, he spent one season at Alabama.
 
Bulls Close Out Non-Conference At Canisius
The Bulls will continue their four-game road trip right down the road on Saturday night as Buffalo faces Canisius in its final Big 4 and non-conference test of the year.  UB had it's 11-game winning streak snapped last Friday at Marquette, but the Bulls are still ranked in the Top 25 and looking to end 2018 and non-conference play on a high note against the Golden Griffins.  Having played Canisius multiple times at the Keybank Center, this will be UB's first trip to Koessler Center in over six years, with the last game being Nov. 20, 2012. Sports Information Director Brian Wolff (shameless plug) and radio play by play man Josh Whetzel are the only two current members of the men's basketball travel party who have worked a UB game at the KAC.
 
This will be the 101st meeting between Canisius and a nationally-ranked opponent and their second this season as they played Florida State early this year.  They have lost their last 17 games to nationally ranked squads. In fact, Canisius has lost 57 of the last 58 games against nationally-ranked competition dating all the way back to 1967. 
 
Despite not playing Niagara this season, UB is still looking for a perfect record against Big 4 teams for the first time since 2006-07 when they beat Canisius and Niagara. They did not play the Bonnies 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 seven 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 was named the MAC East Player of the Week after he had a game-high 25 points against Syracuse as he moved into fifth place on UB's all-time scoring list and he added 18 more at Marquette. He now has 1,551 career points and 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 62 times in the 115 games with Nate Oats as head coach.  The Bulls are 53-9 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 1,400 points for his career, good for 9th place in school history in career scoring.  He is three points shy of moving into eighth place, surpassing Sam Pellom and just 14 points shy of Turner Battle for seventh place.  
 
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.  
 
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 six of the last eight contests, including going 4-of-7 at Marquette, scoring a season high 22 points.  
 
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. He stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, eight rebounds, and seven assists against Marquette.
 
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. Caruthers had his second 20-point game of the year at Marquette, going 7-of-11 from the field.
 
Graves Digger
Sophomore Jayvon Graves is averaging 9.8 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 6.0 points per game, including going 13-of-27 from three-point range.  After shooting under 30% from three last year, McRae has been the most improved shooter on the team, shooting .481 from behind the arc.  McRae had 11 points in the win over Southern Illinois and he went 3-for-3 from three-point range and had 11 points in the win over San Francisco.