Buffalo Opens NCAA Tournament Action Friday Against #11 Arizona State

UB MBB Huddle

#6 Buffalo (31-3, 16-2 MAC) vs. #11 Arizona State (23-10, 12-6 MAC)
March 22, 2019

BOK Center
 - 4:00 pm ET

Bulls on the Air

Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/WHTK 1280 AM Rochester/Westwood One

Television - TNT

Opening Tip

• Buffalo enters the NCAA Tournament as a #6 seed in the West Region, the highest by a MAC program since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.  This is the second straight year UB is in the NCAA Tournament and the fourth time in five years.  Buffalo is one of just 25 teams that has made four tournaments over the last five year period.
• The meeting against Arizona State will be a reunion between current UB head coach Nate Oats and his predecessor Bobby Hurley, who is in his fourth season at Arizona State after spending two years as the head coach at Buffalo, leading the Bulls to their first NCAA Tournament in 2014-15.
• The Bulls enter the NCAA Tournament with a 31-3 record, tied with Houston for the best record in the nation. The 31 wins are the most ever by a Mid-American Conference team.
• Senior CJ Massinburg is one of just four players in the nation with over 1,900 points, 700 rebounds, 300 assists, and 100 steals, joining Ethan Happ of Wisconsin, John Konchar of Purdue-Fort Wayne, and Justin James of Wyoming.
• UB has won 58 games over the last two seasons, tied for the sixth highest total in the nation.

The Opponent

• Arizona State defeted St. John's Wednesday night in the First Four matchup in Dayton, 74-65.  The Sun Devils are  23-10 and 12-6 in the PAC-12, having falling to Oregon in the conference semifinals.
 
• The Sun Devils are led by Luguentz Dort, who averages 16.1 points per game, while Remy Martin adds 13.4 points and a team-high 154 assists.  Zylan Cheatham averages a double-double with 11.8 points and 10.4 rebounds. Rob Edwards adds 11.3 points per game.
 
• Either opponent features a head coach that had an outstanding professional career.  Bobby Hurley is in his fourth season at Arizona State after spending two years at Buffalo, including a MAC championship in 2014-15. This is the second straight year that Hurley has led Arizona State to the NCAA Tournament.  Prior to taking the job at Buffalo, Hurley spent time as an assistant coach for his brother Danny Hurley at Rhode Island and Wagner.  Hurley won two national championship as a player at Duke and was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings. 
 
Bulls Head To Tulsa To Begin NCAA Tournament Action
The Bulls head to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last five years, one of just 25 teams nationally to make at least four tournaments over the last five year period.  UB became the first MAC team ever to win four conference tournaments in a five-year stretch with its 87-73 win over Bowling Green in the MAC Championship on Saturday night.  Buffalo heads into the NCAA Tournament as a #6 seed in the West Region, the highest seeding for a MAC team since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. 
 
Buffalo is one of 23 schools to have both their men's and women's team in the NCAA Tournament, but one of only three schools to have earned the league's automatic bid on both sides, joining Abilene Christian out of the Southland and New Mexico St. out of the WAC.
 
Oats Named Finalist For National Coach Of The Year
University at Buffalo head men's basketball coach Nate Oats has been named one of 11 finalists for the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Wednesday afternoon. Oats is one of seven first-time finalists. The Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award will be announced at the Men's Final Four in April.
 
Bulls Dominate Postseason Awards
Coming off the most successful regular season in recent league history, the University at Buffalo men's basketball program has been recognized by the coaches and media through out the league, dominating the postseason All-MAC Awards. Senior CJ Massinburg has become the fifth different UB player named MAC Player of the Year and it is the fourth time in the last eight years it has gone to a Buffalo player, the most of any one school in the league during that time.  For the second straight season, Nate Oats has been named the MAC Coach of the Year, as he becomes Buffalo's first ever two-time recipient of the award.
 
For the third straight year, senior Nick Perkins is the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year, becoming the first ever three-time winner of that award in the history of Division I college basketball.  Fellow senior Dontay Caruthers has been named the league's Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons.
 
Perkins and Massinburg were both named to the All-MAC First Team for the second straight year, while senior Jeremy Harris found his way on the league's second teams.  Both Caruthers and junior Davonta Jordan were on the All-Defensive teams, the second straight year for Jordan. 
 
Harris was named the MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player as he averaged 22.0 points per game over the three contests, including 31 in the championship against Bowling Green.  Massinburg was also named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 16.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
 
Give 100%
Buffalo went over 100 points for the third time this season, scoring 114 points against Ohio, its most ever against a Division I opponent. It was the third this year that UB has scored 110 or more points in a game.  Now in his fourth season, head coach Nate Oats had recorded 100 or more points nine times, including eight against Division I 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 Ohio marked the sixth 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 has done 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.
 
Buffalo is the only team in the nation to score 110 points or more three times against Division I competition this season.  Only three teams have done it multiple times against D-I opposition as UB is joined by Duke and UNC, who have each done it 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 15th, has set a new MAC record as UB has now been ranked for 19 straight weeks, surpassing the previous mark set by the 1961-62 Bowling Green Falcons at 11 weeks. The Bulls are currently 16th in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, the 18th week ranked there. UB is ahead of such teams as Nevada and Kansas in that poll.
 
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 15 weeks in the polls from UB are a new record for a Big 4 program.
 
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 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 was named MAC East Player of the Week for the third time this season as he averaged 20.5 points per game in wins over Ohio and Kent State, moving into third place on UB's all-time scoring list against Kent State. He averaged 21.5 points and 10.0 rebounds a game, earning his second straight MAC Player of the Week honor.  He currently sits at 1,910 career points and next up is UB's all-time leading scorer Javon McRea, who has 2,004 career 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.  
 
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 ahead of that pace, averaging 84.9 points per game, which is sixth 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 and have done it 12 of 18 times in league play. After averaging 84.7 points in the three MAC Tournament games, the Bulls have now scored 80 or more points 78 times in the 137 games with Nate Oats as head coach.  The Bulls are 68-10 in those games when scoring at least 80 points. UB has reached it 24 times this year in 34 games, the second highest total in the nation, behind only Gonzaga, who has done it 26 times.
 
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.  He scored 26 points in UB's win at Toledo, hitting four three pointers in the game and scoring 19 of his 26 points in the second half.  Perkins notched a new career high in scoring against Kent State with 27 points and he added 25 points against Akron. Perkins, who was also named national Sixth Man of the Year by Bleacher Report, recently went over the 1,700 point mark for his career and is just two points shy of fifth place on UB's all-time scoring list.
 
Dontay's Inferno
UB's senior guard Dontay Caruthers is one of the top defenders in the Mid-American Conference as he as been named Defensive Player of the Year in the MAC twice over the last three seasons. 
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 is shooting 57.3% from the floor on the year.  The newly crowned two-time defensive player of the year, he leads the team with 25 charges drawn this season. 
 
Mr. March
Over the last two years, senior Jeremy Harris has shown his affinity for playing in March. Last year, 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. Harris had a game-high 20 points for UB in the win over Ohio on Tuesday night. Harris was named to the All-MAC Second Team for the second straight year. He was named MAC Tournament MVP after averaging 22.0 points per game over the three game.  In the semifinals over Central Michigan, Harris surpassed the 1,000 point scoring mark in a UB uniform, becoming just the 22nd player in school history.
 
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.
 
Crossing Jordan
One of the most improved players in the entire Mid-American Conference over the last two seasons is junior point guard Davonta Jordan.  He is currently UB's active career leader in assists with 332.
 
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 23 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. He flirted with triple double numbers at home against the Golden Flashes with eight points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. Jordan tied his career high with four made three pointers at Ohio, hitting four of his first five shots from deep in the opening half.
 
Graves Digger
Sophomore Jayvon Graves is averaging 9.9 points per game, 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 scoring 16 against Dartmouth, making his first appearance on Sportscenter's Top 10 plays this season.  Graves recorded 19 points in the win over St. Bonaventure, knocking down a then career best five three-pointers. 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. He scored a career high 26 points in the win over Ohio, including19 of those in the first half.  He was nearly unstoppable from three-point range, where he was 7-of-9 from behind the arc. Graves added 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three blocks in the win over Akron. Graves averaged 13.0 points in the MAC Tournament, including 17 in the title game.  He has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games.