Buffalo (7-10, 1-3 MAC) at Kent State (9-8, 1-3 MAC)
January 17, 2017
M.A.C. Center - 7:00 pm
Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB
Television - None
The Opening Tip...
• The Bulls return to the road Tuesday night when they face the Kent State Golden Flashes in only their second meeting against a MAC East school. The Bulls have had their fair share of success against the Golden Flashes, winning six straight, including the last three at Kent State. UB is looking to become just the third different MAC program to ever win at least four straight at Kent State (Ohio, Toledo).
• The six straight wins by the Bulls over Kent State are the most by a MAC program since Miami won eight straight from the Golden Flashes between 1994-97. Ohio won 10 in a row against the Golden Flashes between 1991-95 and Toledo won seven straight between 1975-79. Only seven other schools have ever won at least six straight and with a win Tuesday, Buffalo will be only the fourth MAC program to win seven in a row.
• Buffalo is currently riding winning streaks of at least six games against two schools in the Mid-American Conference. UB has defeated Kent State six straight times with the last loss coming in Cleveland during the 2012-13 season, while the Bulls have won 11 straight against Northern Illinois with their last loss coming in overtime during the 2005-06 season.
• Kent State is 9-8 on the season and 1-3 in conference play following a 92-88 loss at Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Flashes are looking to snap a three-game losing skid as they have not won since the MAC opener, a 100-90 victory over Ball State. The Golden Flashes went 31-of-31 from the free throw line in that game. Kent State also had a win over Texas to end non-conference play.
• Kent State is led by preseason All-MAC East player Jimmy Hall, who is averaging a double-double with 17.2 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. Jaylin Walker, who played for UB head coach Nate Oats at Romulus High School, is second on the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game and Deon Edwin adds 12.4 points per game.
• Kent State is one of the top rebounding teams in the nation as the Golden Flashes are first nationally in offensive rebounds at 16.94 rebounds per contest and 12th overall in rebounding margin. Individually, Hall is fifth nationally in offensive rebounding.
• Rob Senderoff enters his sixth year as the head men's basketball coach at Kent State. The 43-year-old took over the program in April 2011 after spending seven previous years on the Golden Flashes' coaching staff. Senderoff earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Albany in 1995 and a master's in sports studies from Miami in 1997.
Bulls Look To Continue Domination Of Golden Flashes
Buffalo will look to end a two-game losing streak on Tuesday night at Kent State, meeting a Golden Flashes squad that UB has defeated six straight times. Both teams are looking for their second conference victory.
With a win, UB will defeat Kent State for the seventh straight time, which would be the longest streak by a MAC school since Miami (OH) won eight straight meetings between 1994-97. A win would also be UB's fourth straight at the M.A.C Center, which would be the longest by a MAC school since Ohio won five straight from 1991-95.
Sophomore CJ Massinburg became the third different UB player to record a double-double on the season Saturday when he had a season-high 18 points and a career-best 10 rebounds in the win over Eastern Michigan. It was the first career double-double for the Dallas, TX native. Massinburg joins Blake Hamilton who had 19 points and 11 rebounds against Canisius and sophomore Nick Perkins, who has recorded a pair of double-doubles, including 18 points and 10 rebounds against Weber State and 10 points and 11 rebounds against Robert Morris. Last season, UB had three players all year record double-doubles, led by five from Hamilton.
Against Ohio, Massinburg recorded his second straight double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Hamilton also had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. It is the first time this year that UB has had two players with a double-double in the same match and also the first time this season that a Buffalo player recorded a double-double in consecutive games. Senior David Kadiri joined the double-double party against Ball State as he recorded career highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds. The four different players with double-doubles are the most in a season since 2014-15 when Justin Moss, Xavier Ford, Shannon Evans, and Rodell Wigginton all recorded double-doubles thats year.
3-Peat After Me
The Bulls are looking to do something that no Mid-American Conference school has ever accomplished and that is win three straight MAC Tournament titles. Buffalo has already become the first team since Kent State to go in back-to-back seasons when the Golden Flashes did it in 2001 and 2002, but a third straight trip would make conference history. No Big 4 school has gone to three straight NCAA Tournament since Canisius in 1955-57.
Buffalo is one of only five programs to have won conference titles in both 2014-15 and 2015-16 joining Hampton (MEAC), Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley), Kentucky (SEC), and Gonzaga (WCC). Of that group, Gonzaga is the only one to have received three straight automatic bids into the NCAA Tournament.
For The Record
Buffalo had one of its best three-point shooting days in school history on Dec. 10 in its 87-52 win over Coppin State at Alumni Arena. The Bulls went 15-of-30 from behind the arc with six different players hitting at least one three pointer. The 15 triples are the second most in school history in one game and the most since Buffalo had 14 last season in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament against Ohio. The only time UB had more than 15 threes in a game was back on Feb. 22, 1996 when it had 18 against Troy State.
Individually, senior Willie Conner hit a career-best eight three points, which is tied for third most in a single game in school history and the most since Shannon Evans had eight against Cornell on Jan. 3, 2015. Second place belongs to hall of famer Mike Martinho, who had 10 three pointers in that record-breaking game against Troy State. Eric Moore holds the school record of 11 set in 2007 against Bowling Green.
For The Record...Part Deux
The Bulls had quite the historical evening during their home-opening victory against Nazareth. In the 85-38 win, UB allowed its fewest points in a game since Feb. 1, 1979 against Fredonia State. The Bulls also allowed 47 points fewer in the win over Nazareth than they did three days earlier at Xavier. The 47-point margin between two games is Buffalo's largest since the 1987-88 season when they allowed 125 points to St. Anselm in the season-opener and followed that up by allowing just 67 points in the next game against Queens College.
Easy Blake Oven
Senior Blake Hamilton begins his final season after being one of five players named to the All-MAC East Division squad in the preseason. Hamilton was named to the All-MAC Third Team last season and enters 2016-17 as the Bulls returning leading scorer and rebounder at 13.7 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per contest. Hamilton had a stellar first season with UB in 2015-16, but it will be his shot at the end of the MAC Championship game that will always be remembered by Bulls fans.
Hamilton missed most of the preseason due to a broken non-shooting hand, but he returned to the starting lineup for the regular season opener at Niagara where he had 11 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in 26 minutes of action. Hamilton recorded a career-high 11 assists in the win over Nazareth, the most by a UB player so far this season. He then showed his scoring touch in the opener of the Great Alaska Shootout with a career-high 36 points against Alaska-Anchorage, including 29 of those in the second half. The 36 points are tied for 10th in school history for a single game and the most since current teammate CJ Massinburg had 36 last season against Ohio. The 36 points are also tied for eighth most in a single game in the 38-year history of the Great Alaska Shootout. Hamilton added 23 points and eight rebounds in the win over Weber State and he led all scorers in the Great Alaska Shootout field. Hamilton added 21 points against Creighton and 20 points at St. Bonaventure and he scored over 20 points in four of the six games on the previous road trip. Hamilton had his first double-double of the season against Canisius as he finished with 19 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. He led the Bulls in scoring for the sixth time and had his fifth 20-point game against Robert Morris on Dec. 21. Hamilton put up 21 points against Eastern Michigan. He had 17 points, a season-high 13 rebounds, and six assists against Ohio. He added 14 points and nine boards against Ball State.
Senior Willie Conner was named the MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and was also named to the newly created All-Defensive team following his junior season. Conner also transferred in after playing his freshman season at Florida A&M and his sophomore year at Odessa Community College. In addition to his defensive prowess, Conner was also a dynamic three-point shooter for the Bulls as he hit 48 of them last year, including six in the MAC Quarterfinal win over Miami (OH), scoring 25 points.
Off the floor, Conner continues to be one of the top team leaders for the Bulls and he has been UB's team representative for its relationship with Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization that helps children forget about their illness and become part of something bigger, a team of friends.
Conner was one of the most productive players for the Bulls in the season-opener as he led the Bulls with 20 points, including four three-pointers. His four point play late in the second half clinched the game for Buffalo. In the Great Alaska Shootout opener, Conner had 12 points ans five assists, but it was his strong defense that helped shutdown Alaska-Anchorage's top player as Sekou Wiggs went just 3-of-18 from the field. Conner added 21 points against Creighton, the second time this year he hit the 20-point mark, and the first since the season opener. It has been five straight games where Conner has been given the defensive assignment of the opposing teams top player. On Saturday, he held St. Bonaventure's leading scorer Matt Mobley to just nine points, the first time this season Mobley failed to enter double figures.
Conner regained his scoring touch in the win over Coppin State as he tied his career-high with 28 points in the victory, hitting a career-high eight three pointers, tied for the third most in school history.
David Is Goliath
Senior David Kadiri is coming off the best game of his UB career on Saturday against Ball State as he finished with career highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds as he shot 11-of-13 from the floor. In fact, Kadiri scored 31.5% of his points on the season on Saturday as he had 23 of his 73 points on the year. Kadiri is one of four UB players with double figures in blocks as he is tied for second on the team with 11 blocked shots.
Nick of Time
Another sophomore that had an outstanding first season for the Bulls was Nick Perkins, who continued to improve during each game of the 2015-16 season, culminating in his season-high 20 points in the NCAA Tournament game against Miami (OH). Perkins became the first ever UB player to score 20 points in an NCAA Tournament game and most of that was thanks to his career-high four three pointers in the contest.
In the exhibition win over Daemen, Perkins had 25 points, including eight of those coming in the overtime period. Seven of those points came in a row, capped off on a dunk in which he was fouled and completed the four-point play. He had 11 points and eight rebounds in the opener at Niagara. Perkins led the Bulls with 15 points and seven rebounds against nationally-ranked Xavier. He recorded 21 points in the win over Nazareth, adding eight rebounds and a career-best four blocked shots. Perkins recorded his first career double-double, and the first by a UB player this season, on Saturday night with 18 points and 10 rebounds against Weber State. Perkins established a new career high in scoring on Saturday afternoon at St. Bonaventure with 24 points, going 10-of-15 from the floor and tying his career high with four three pointers. Perkins followed that up with 23 points at ACC foe Pittsburgh, going 11-of-18 from the floor. The 11 field goals for Perkins were a career high. Perkins had his second double-double of the year against Robert Morris as he finished with 10 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.
It was a successful first year for sophomore CJ Massinburg, who was named to the All-Freshman team following his first year in the Blue and White. Massinburg proved early that he belonged, scoring a team-high 25 points in the exhibition contest against Daemen a year ago. His best game came against Ohio in February where he recorded 36 points vs. the Bobcats, the highest point total by a Buffalo player last year. His 396 points scored last year were the second most ever scored in a season by a UB freshman.
Massinburg made his regular season debut on Dec. 7 at Pittsburgh after missing the first eight games of the season due to mononucleosis. He made the most in hist return with 14 points, three rebounds, and five assists in 25 minutes off the bench. Massinburg rejoined the starting lineup for the first time this year and had 15 points and three assists in 22 minutes. Massinburg logged the most minutes of his career in the overtime loss to Canisius as he played 42 minutes, finishing with 16 points and five assists. He added 15 points coming off the bench in the win over Maine. Massinburg recorded his first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against Eastern Michigan. He followed it up with his second straight double-double as he had 16 points and a career-high 11 rebounds against Ohio.
The Bulls have three players on this year's team, who all played against each other during the 2014-15 Junior College year in NCJAA Region 5. Senior Willie Conner played at Odessa Community College, while fellow senior David Kadiri spent the year at South Plains Community College. The newest addition is redshirt sophomore Dontay Caruthers, who played his freshman year at Midland College, where he played under current UB assistant coach Bryan Hodgson. Kadiri had the best season of the bunch as he helped lead his squad to a national runner up finish. He had 13 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots in that national championship game.
The Bulls have brought in an impressive freshmen class this year, including the services of point guard Davonta Jordan out of Cocoa, FL. He was the ninth best player in the state of Florida and the 30th best point guard nationally. Jordan played at Montverde Academy, which has produced a number of NBA Draft Lottery picks, including the first overall pick in this past year's draft Ben Simmons, and previous picks D'Angelo Russell (2nd Overall) and Joel Embiid (3rd Overall).
Jordan started the season-opener for the Bulls and he was impressive, finishing with six points and seven assists in 23 minutes. The seven assists were the most in a season-opener by a UB player since Alexi Vasiliev had 10 against the Purple Eagles on Nov. 19, 1999. Jordan had a team-high six assists off the bench in the win over Alaska-Anchorage. Jordan tied his career high with seven assists on Friday night against Nevada, recording six of those in the first half. Jordan recorded a new career high with 10 assists against Creighton, becoming the first UB freshman with 10 assists in a game since Lamonte Bearden did it against Cornell on Jan. 3, 2015. Jordan re-entered the starting lineup against St. Bonaventure and recorded career highs in points (9) and rebounds (6), while adding seven assists.
Another newcomer that made a solid debut was redshirt sophomore Dontay Caruthers who had four points, three rebounds, and a team-high three steals, including a crucial one in the final 40 seconds of play. Caruthers picked up his first career start against Nazareth and also started in the Great Alaska Shootout opener against Alaska-Anchorage. He recorded a career-best seven points against Nevada, including his first career three-pointer. Caruthers had a huge defensive performance against Maine, as he was credited with drawing four charges.
Caruthers, a Rochester native, played his freshman season at Midland College before spending last season at Indian Hills Community College. However, he was injured and missed the year.
The Bulls finished in third place at the Great Alaska Shootout with a 2-1 record over their three contests in Anchorage. Senior Blake Hamilton led all scorers in the field averaging 24.3 points per game. He had a career-high 36 points against Alaska-Anchorage, tied for the eighth most in the 39-year history of the tournament. The Bulls picked up wins against Alaska-Anchorage and Weber State in the tournament, while losing a close one against Nevada.
Sophomore Nikola Rackicevic, known affectionately by his teammates as Johnny, played in 20 games during his freshman season, scoring a career-high 14 points against Delaware. Rackicevic has been one of the bigger surprises for the Bulls, shooting the ball extremely well both over the summer on the foreign trip to the Bahamas, but also in the early part of this preseason. He has appeared in seven games this year, having his best game of the year against Maine with five points off the bench.
This season, Rackicevic changed his number to #42 in honor of his mother, who passed away unexpectedly during his freshman season. He had his best game of the season with eight points and four rebounds against Ohio, including a buzzer-beating fast-break layup prior to the halftime buzzer.
Last season, Nate Oats led the Bulls to an average of 77.4 points per game their highest scoring average since 1975-76. In fact, of the top 10 scoring seasons, only two of them have come since 1994-95 and the 2,709 points scored by Buffalo last season were the most scored in the 99-year history of the program.
This summer the Bulls went on a foreign trip to Toronto and the Bahamas, getting 10 extra practice in over the summer and playing in four games. UB began the trip with an 84-76 win of the University of Guelph and then defeated York University, 87-69, before moving down to the Bahamas where they played two more games.
Buffalo defeated the College of Bahamas 81-67 before ending the trip with a 113-73 win over the Real Deal Shockers. All of the Bulls saw action during the foreign trip except for Davonta Jordan, who was a late addition to the squad this summer.
NCAA programs are allowed to take a foreign trip once every four years.
Home Sweet Home
Despite not seeing much of Alumni Arena for the early part of non-conference season, the home arena has been a friendly one for the Bulls. In the three plus years since Nate Oats has been associated with men's basketball program, the Bulls are 37-11 at Alumni Arena. In fact, the Bulls are 89-30 inside Alumni Arena since the 2008-09 season and going back even further, UB is 138-48 at home since the 2004-05 season.
Bulls Sign Three To National Letters Of Intent
Head men's basketball coach Nate Oats has announced that three players have signed national letters of intent to play at Buffalo during the 2017-18 season during the early signing period:
Jayvon Graves (6-3, PG, Akron, OH)
Jeremy Harris (6-7, Wing, Greensboro, NC/Gulf Coast College)
James Reese (64, SG, Columbia, SC)