Jan 03, 2019
#20/#20 Buffalo (12-1, 0-0 MAC) at Eastern Michigan (6-7, 0-0 MAC)
January 4, 2019
Convocation Center - 9:00 pm
Bulls on the Air
Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/WHTK 1280 AM Rochester/TuneIn App
Television - CBS Sports Network
• Buffalo opens Mid-American Conference play on Friday night at Eastern Michigan, the third straight year the Bulls have opened against the MAC West. At #20 in the country, UB becomes the highest ranked team ever to play at the Convocation Center and the first ranked program since #21/#22 UMass on Dec. 3, 2013. Both Michigan and Michigan State have played at EMU, but were unranked at the time.
• The Bulls checked in at #20 in both the AP and Coaches Poll this week, the eighth straight week that UB has been in the AP Poll. The eight consecutive weeks ranked are the longest by a MAC program since Ohio was ranked for eight straight during the 1969-70 season.
• At 12-1, the Bulls are off to their best start since the 1962-63 season. Of teams in the Top 30 in the latest NET rankings, Buffalo has played more games away from home than any other team, playing eight games away form Alumni Arena, including six true road games, two more than any other team on the list.
• Friday night's trip to Eastern Michigan will be the final one for Ypsilanti, MI native and senior Nick Perkins. This is the third trip to EMU for Perkins, who played there as both a freshman and sophomore. He averaged 10.5 rebounds per game in his two games at EMU. It is also a homecoming for head coach Nate Oats, who spent 11 years as head coach at nearby Romulus High School, just about 16 miles away.
• Eastern Michigan is 6-7 on the year through non-conference play, but has just two victories over Division I competition. The Eagles have faced some tough competition on the road with trips to Duke, Rutgers, TCU and Kansas. The Eagles are looking for their first D-I win since Nov. 17. EMU has had the benefit of playing at home as Friday night will mark their ninth game at the Convocation Center, where they are 6-2 this year.
• Eastern Michigan has three players averaging in double figures, led by 12.8 points per game from Paul Jackson. Elijah Minnie is second on the team averaging 11.6 points per game, while preseason All-MAC selection James Thompson IV is averaging just under a double-double with 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
• Eastern Michigan was picked as the preseason favorite to win the MAC West as they received 183 points and 17 first place votes. Five of the six teams in the MAC West received at least one first place vote in the preseason All- MAC voting. EMU leads the MAC in offensive rebounding at 14.2 per game.
• Rob Murphy is in his eighth season as head coach at Eastern Michigan. 2017-18 saw the Eagles reach tremendous heights, finishing with an overall record of 22-13, an 11-7 mark in Mid-American Conference play, a trip to the MAC Tournament semi-finals, and an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Murphy has been on the staff of two college basketball programs and was also a highly successful high school head coach in Detroit, leading Crockett to the Class B State Championship in 2000-01 and was the associate head coach on the staff of the Detroit Central High School team that won the Class A state title in 1997-98. Murphy joined Kent State University for two seasons, 2002-03 and 2003-04, and the teams turned in back-to-back 22-9 seasons on the way to two MAC East Division crowns. Murphy joined Jim Boeheim's Syracuse University men's basketball program as an assistant. During his seven years on the staff, the Orange recorded a 180-67 overall record and played in the post season every year, with five NCAA appearances and two NIT stops.
Bulls Open MAC Play At Eastern Michigan
The defense of Buffalo's Mid-American Conference title will begin on Friday night as league play begins for the Bulls at Eastern Michigan. UB is coming off a 15-3 MAC campaign a year ago, including a 7-1 record against teams from the MAC West. This will be UB's first trip to the Convocation Center since Jan. 17, 2017 when Buffalo came away with a 77-68 win. The Bulls have won three straight over the Eagles, including an 83-69 win at Alumni Arena last year. Eastern Michigan is one of two MAC West teams that the Bulls will play twice, as EMU comes to Buffalo on Jan. 18. This will be the fourth time UB and EMU have played a season series, they split the meetings the first three times.
Buffalo will become the 12th different time that Eastern Michigan has played a ranked team in the Rob Murphy era, and it will be EMU's second straight game against a ranked opponent as they face Kansas last Saturday. Since the 1976-77 season, Eastern has played 44 games against Top 25 opponents and hold a record of 2-42. Their last win over a ranked team game on Dec. 10, 1994 against #14 Wisconsin.
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. This is the eighth straight week in the AP poll for Buffalo. No MAC team has been in the polls for eight consecutive weeks or longer since Ohio during the 1969-70 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.
Massinburg Named To Oscar Robertson Midseason Watch List
Senior CJ Massinburg has done it all so far through the non-conference portion of his final season including being just one of 20 players nationally named to the Oscar Robertson Midseason Watch List, which is awarded to the nation's top player. 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 1,573 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. Massinburg is one of only five players currently in the nation with over 1,570 career points, 600 career rebounds, and 200 career assists.
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 12-2 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 and this year they are right around that pace averaging 84.2 points per contest. 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.
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. Buffalo scored over 80 in back-to-back games to end non -conference play with 85 at Marquette and 87 at Canisius. The Bulls have now scored 80 or more points 63 times in the 116 games with Nate Oats as head coach. The Bulls are 54-9 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. Following an 18-point performance at Canisius, Perkins moved into seventh place on UB's all-time scoring list, surpassing both Sam Pellom and Turner Battle on the list.
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 even of the last nine contests. He is 7-of-12 over the last two games, including a season-high 22 points at Marquette.
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 274.
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.
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.
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. Caruthers earned a spot on Sportscenter Top 10 plays following his postarizing dunk at Canisius right over Malik Johnson. He also had a game-high six assists in the win over the Golden Griffins.
Sophomore Jayvon Graves is averaging 9.8 points per game through the first 13 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 10 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. He had 10 points on his birthday at Canisius.