Jan 07, 2019
#19/#20 Buffalo (13-1, 1-0 MAC) vs. Toledo (12-2, 0-1 MAC)
January 8, 2019
Alumni Arena - 7:00 pm
Bulls on the Air
Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/WHTK 1280 AM Rochester/TuneIn App
Television - ESPN+
• For the first time in over three weeks, the Bulls will return to Alumni Arena to open a two-game homestand. First up is a rematch of the 2018 MAC Championship game as the Bulls host the Toledo Rockets. UB and Toledo combined to go 26-2 during non-conference play. This will mark the second straight year that Toledo is the first MAC opponent to play inside Alumni Arena.
• The Bulls are currently tied for the sixth longest home winning streak in the nation, having won their last 17 games at Alumni Arena. Houston leads the way at 28 straight, followed by Charleston at 22. UB is tied with Michigan, Tennessee, and UNC-Greensboro.
• At 13-1 Buffalo is having its best start through 14 games since the 1930-31 season when UB went 15-0 overall. It is only the third time in school history that Buffalo has started 13-1 or better, as the 1929-30 team finished its season 15-1. The Bulls have played most of the season away from home as they have eight road or neutral site wins, which is second in the nation.
• According to Hoop-Math.com, the Bulls have been known to sport one of the quicker offenses in the country of their 915 total shot attempts this year, 444 of those have come in the first 10 seconds of a possession, while 337 more have come between 11-20 seconds into the shot clock. Through 14 games, UB has used 20 or more seconds in the shot clock on just 134 of the 915 attempts (14.6%).
• Toledo enters Tuesday night's game with a 12-2 record and a 0-1 mark in league play following a 79-64 loss in the MAC opener to Ball State on Friday evening. Like Buffalo, the Rockets went 12-1 during non-league play, including seven wins at home inside Savage Arena. Toledo's lone loss in non-league play was at Wright State, am 84-74 defeat.
• Toledo had five players averaging in double figures led by Jaelan Sanford, who is averaging 17.4 points per game. Fellow senior Nate Navigato is averaging 12.8 points per game, shooting over 50% from three-point range. Willie Jackson is third on the team in scoring and he is averaging a double-double with 11.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest.
• Toledo leads the MAC in three-point shooting as they are shooting 38.1% from behind the arc, while they also hold the league's top three-point defense. The Rockets also hold on to the top scoring margin in the league at +15.3. Toledo was picked to finish in third place in the MAC West, receiving five first place votes.
• Tod Kowalczyk is in his eighth season as head coach at Toledo. Last year, Toledo posted a 23-11 record, captured the MAC West Division title and advanced to the MAC Championship Game for the second time in the last five seasons. The Rockets featured a prolific perimeter shooting arsenal, ranking 11th nationally with a 40.1 3PTFG percentage. In 2013-14, UT established a school record with 27 victories that season, captured a share of its eighth league regular-season title and appeared in its eighth National Invitation Tournament. Prior to getting the job at Toledo, he served as the head coach at Green Bay. Green Bay reached postseason play for the first time in 13 years with an appearance in the 2009 College Basketball Invitational. In Kowalczyk's final year with the Phoenix, his squad posted a 22-13 mark and won the program's first post-season game since 1994. Kowalczyk prepared for his time as a head coach with 13 years as an assistant at five different institutions, with his final stint coming at Marquette. Kowalczyk began coaching as a student assistant at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1988.
Bulls Host Toledo In MAC Championship Rematch
Buffalo and Toledo will meet up on Tuesday night in a rematch of the 2018 Mid-American Conference Championship game. Both teams had outstanding non-conference schedules as both teams went 12-1 during their non-league play. Buffalo won its league opener comfortably at preseason MAC West favorite Eastern Michigan on Friday night, 74-58. Toledo hosted a tough Ball State squad on Friday as well, losing its MAC opener, 79-64.
The Bulls won both meetings between the two teams last year, opening up league play at Alumni Arena with a 104-94 victory over the Rockets and then punching a ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a 76-66 win over the Rockets on March 10 in Cleveland.
Buffalo is in a stretch where it is playing five of the first six games against schools from the MAC West, with the lone exception coming on Saturday against Miami (OH). Last season, the Bulls went 7-1 in the regular season against the MAC West. Throw in MAC Tournament results, and UB won nine out of 10 contests against teams from the other division.
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 ninth straight week in the AP poll for Buffalo. No MAC team has been in the polls for nine consecutive weeks or longer since Bowling Green during the 1961-62 season, when they were ranked for 11 straight weeks, the longest ever by a MAC program.
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.
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 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 1,585 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 three players currently in the nation with over 1,500 career points, 600 career rebounds, and 250 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 13-2 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 just shy of that pace averaging 83.5 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. He currently has 1,433 points.
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 was 7-of-12 over the final two games of non-conference play, 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 9.6 points per game through the first 14 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.
The Real McRae
Senior Montell McRae is averaging 6.6 points per game, coming off a career high 18 points in the MAC opener against Eastern Michigan. McRae had a stretch in the first half where he scored 12 straight points, including back-to-back three pointers, which gave the Bulls the lead for good. McRae is 15-of-31 from three-point range this season and overall he is shooting 62.7% from the field. He is actually 17-of-20 from inside the arc (85%).