Feb 14, 2019
#25/#24 Buffalo (21-3, 9-2 MAC) at Toledo (20-4, 8-3 MAC)
February 15, 2019
Savage Arena - 7:00 pm
Bulls on the Air
Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/WHTK 1280 AM Rochester/TuneIn App
Television - ESPNU
• The two top teams in terms of wins will meet on the hardwood Friday night as the 21-3 Bulls travel to 20-4 Toledo. UB handed the Rockets one of those four losses all the way back on a Jan. 8 with a 110-80 win in Buffalo. This game is also a rematch of the 2018 MAC Championship Game. Senior Jeremy Harris had his best game as a Bull with a career high 34 points.
• Buffalo won its 21st game on Tuesday at Akron, which is already tied for fourth in school history for wins in a season. It is the fourth time in the last five years UB has won 20 or more games. Prior to the 2014-15 season, Buffalo had won 20 or more games just three times in program history.
• UB remained in the top 25 for a MAC record 14th straight week as they are 25th in the latest AP Poll. The 14 weeks extend the Mid-American Conference record, surpassing the 11 straight weeks that Bowling Green was ranked during the 1961-62 season.
• When senior Nick Perkins checks in on Friday night, he will be playing in his 128th career game, tying the all-time school record for games played with Mitchell Watt (2008-12) and Javon McRea (2010-14).
• The Buffalo and Toledo coaching staffs will be recognizing two causes on Friday night. They will be wearing blue puzzle pins for Autism Awareness and green pins for Rockets For Life, a program for Organ Donation Awareness.
• Toledo is 20-4 on the season and 8-3 in league play as the Rockets are coming off their bye week. Most recently Toledo came away with a 78-71 win at Bowling Green, handing the Falcons their first home loss. Toledo has won eight of nine since the last meeting with Buffalo, with their lone loss coming in overtime at Kent State.
• The Rockets have four players in double figures and six averaging 9.3 points or better. Jaelan Sanford leads the team at 15.8 points per game, while Nate Navigato is second at 12.6 points per game. Marreon Jackson has a team-leading 109 assists, while Willie Jackson is averaging just under a double-double with 9.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
• Toledo is one of the top free throw shooting teams in the country as they are fourth in the nation in free throw percentage at 78.4%. The Rockets have also done an excellent job on the defense glass as they rank fifth in the country in defensive rebounding and 11th overall in total rebounds.
• Tod Kowalczyk is in his ninth 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.
Offensive Juggernauts Square Off Friday Night At Toledo
Two of the MAC's top teams will meet on the hardwood for the second time this season as Buffalo travels to Toledo for their final regular season contest against the MAC West. In the KenPom era, which started during the 2001-02 season, this will be the earliest that two MAC teams have met with 20 wins each. Buffalo is one of just nine teams in the nation with three or fewer losses, while the Rockets are just behind the Bulls as they are one of 20 schools with four or fewer defeats.
On Jan. 8, the Bulls defeated Toledo 110-80, their highest offensive output in a MAC game since joining the league. The Bulls had five players in double figures and as a team, UB scored 65 in the second half of that contest, shooting 62.2% over the final 20 minutes of action.
Over the last five years, these are the two winningest programs in the MAC as UB has recorded 126 wins since the 2013-14 season, while Toledo has 124. In MAC play, UB has 70 wins and Toledo has 63.
Buffalo went over 100 points for the second time this season, tying a season high with 110 points against Toledo on Tuesday, its most ever against a MAC opponent. Now in his fourth season, head coach Nate Oats had recorded 100 or more points eight times, including seven against Division 1 opponents. Prior to Coach Oats taking the job, it took Buffalo between 1993-94 through 2014-15 to score 100 points seven times against D-I schools.
The game against Toledo marked the fifth time Buffalo has scored 100 points in a MAC game since 2015-16 when Coach Oats took over. All five of those performances have come in regulation. Central Michigan is the only other team to do it five times since 2015-16, but used overtime in four of those occurrences. Ball State had done it three times (two in overtime), and no other MAC school has done it more than twice.
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. Buffalo, who is currently ranked 25th, has set a new MAC record as UB has now been ranked for 14 straight weeks, surpassing the previous mark set by the 1961-62 Bowling Green Falcons at 11 weeks. The Bulls are currently 24th in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, the 11th week ranked there.
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. The 14 weeks in the polls from UB tie St. Bonaventure for most weeks ranked in one season.
Massinburg Named To Multiple Midseason National Lists
Senior CJ Massinburg has done it all so far through 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 was also named to the midseason watch lists for the Lute Olsen Award, given to the nation's top player and the Lou Henson Award, given to the nation's top mid-major player. Most recently, he was one of 30 players nationally named to the Citizen Naismith Trophy Men's Midseason Team. 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 led the Bulls with 31 points in the win over Eastern Michigan and he added 23 against Northern Illinois. He scored 20 points against Kent State becoming the first UB player with 20 or more points in three straight games since Wes Clark did it to end the 2017-18 season. Massinburg moved into fourth place in school history in career scoring following his 16 points against Ball State. Next up for him on the career scoring list is Jim Horne, who has 1,833 points. Massinburg is one of just four players in school history with over 1,500 career points and 600 career rebounds, joining Javon McRea, Yassin Idbihi and current teammate Nick Perkins. Massinburg is one of only five players currently in the nation with over 1,700 career points, 600 career rebounds, 250 career assists, and 100 steals.
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 slightly ahead of that pace, averaging 84.7 points per game, which is 9th in the nation. 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. Following the 110 point outburst against Toledo, the Bulls have now scored 80 or more points 70 times in the 127 games with Nate Oats as head coach. The Bulls are 60-10 in those games when scoring at least 80 points. UB has reached it 16 times this year in 24 games, tied for the fourth highest total in the nation.
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.
Perkins Named Finalist For Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award
Senior Nick Perkins has been named one of 10 finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, which is given out to the nation's top center. Perkins has had a tremendous senior season as he 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 scored 21 points in the win over Eastern Michigan and Perkins most recently moved into sixth place in school history in career scoring at Northern Illinois, surpassing Yassin Idbihi.
Perkins, who was named to the midseason watch list for the Lou Henson Award, given to the nation's top mid major player, 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.
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. Caruthers added 12 points and five assists in the win over Kent State, including knocking down a pair of big three pointers. Caruthers had 21 points in the win over Ball State, while drawing three charges. He said a new career scoring mark against Bowling Green as he finished with 28 points, including going 8-of-9 from the floor. He has hit 28 of his last 34 shots from the floor, including seven of his last nine three pointers. He is shooting 60.0% from the floor on the year. In MAC games only, he is shooting 61.8% from three point range, averaging 12.2 points per game in league games. He leads the team with 22 charges drawn this 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. Harris had a career night against Toledo with a new high 34 points in the win, going 6-of-10 from three-point range. Harris had 21 of his points in the first half, while also adding seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals. He added 17 points in the win over Miami (OH), earning MAC East Co-Player of the Week honors.
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.
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 302.
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 is second on the team with 17 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. Jordan had 12 points, four assists, and three steals in the win over Kent State on Jan. 25.
Sophomore Jayvon Graves is averaging 9.0 points per game through the first 24 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. Graves had the first double-double of his career in the win over Toledo, as he finished with 13 points and career-high 12 rebounds, including nine of those on the defensive end. He had his second career double-double in the win over Ball State with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Real McRae
Senior Montell McRae is averaging 6.3 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 actually 34-of-38 from inside the arc (89.5%). It took until the 11th conference games of the season for him to miss his first two point basket, where he is now 23-of-24 in league games.