Bulls Begin MAC Tournament Play Thursday Night Against Kent State

Bulls Begin MAC Tournament Play Thursday Night Against Kent State

#3 Buffalo (17-14, 11-7 MAC) vs. #6 Kent State (19-13, 10-8 MAC)
9, 2017
Quicken Loans Arena
- 9:00 pm

Bulls on the Air

Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB

Television -  Spectrum Sports/ESPN3

The Opening Tip...

• The Bulls look to defend their Mid-American Conference Title yet again as Buffalo opens up Mid-American Conference Tournament play on Thursday night when the third-seeded Bulls face the sixth-seeded Golden Flashes in the Quarterfinals.  This will be the fifth time that the two teams are meeting in the MAC Tournament.  UB and Kent State are two of the hotter teams in the league as Buffalo heads to Cleveland having won eight of their last 10 and Kent State enters Thursday winners of seven of their last eight.

• Buffalo is looking to become the first team in the history of the Mid-American Conference to win the tournament title for the third straight year.  UB is the first team to win back-to-back league titles since 2001 & 2002 when their opponent from Thursday did it, Kent State.

• UB cleaned up on the individual postseason awards as redshirt sophomore Dontay Caruthers was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and sophomore Nick Perkins was named the MAC Sixth Man of the Year.  Caruthers became the first UB player to be named the Defensive Player of the Year, while Perkins is UB's first Sixth Man of the Year since 2005.  Senior Blake Hamilton was named second-team All-MAC, while CJ Massinburg was named Honorable Mention and Caruthers was also named to the All-Defensive Team.

The Opponent

• Kent State enters tonight's Mid-American Conference Tournament game with a 19-13 overall record as the Golden Flashes finished one game behind the Bulls in the league standings at 10-8.  Kent State won a thriller in the opening round of the league tournament as they defeated #11 Central Michigan, 116-106 in overtime.  The teams combined for 34 three pointers in the game and Kent State scored 76 points in the second half and overtime.

• Kent State is led by first-team All-MAC selection Jimmy Hall, who is averaging 18.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and Jaylin Walker, who is averaging 15.4 points per contest.  Deon Edwin added 13.4 points per game, but no other Kent State player averages more than 5.3 points.  Edwin was named to the league's All-Defensive team following the regular season.
• Buffalo and Kent State split their two regular season meetings this year with both teams winning on the opponents home court.  The Bulls won at the M.A.C Center on Jan. 17, 82-69, while Kent State won at Alumni Arena on Feb. 21, 77-69.

•  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.

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.

Caruthers & Perkins Highlight Postseason Honors
    UB cleaned up on the individual postseason awards as redshirt sophomore Dontay Caruthers was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and sophomore Nick Perkins was named the MAC Sixth Man of the Year.  Caruthers became the first UB player to be named the Defensive Player of the Year, while Perkins is UB's first Sixth Man of the Year since 2005.  Senior Blake Hamilton was named second-team All-MAC, while CJ Massinburg was named Honorable Mention and Caruthers was also named to the All-Defensive Team.

I Love The 90's
    With their 96-69 win over Ball State on Feb. 3, the Bulls scored 90 or more points in three straight games, following 101 points against Central Michigan and 90 points against Akron.  This is just the fourth time in school history that the Bulls have scored at least 90 points in three straight games and the first time since 1994-95.  UB also accomplished it during the 1969-70 season and the 1989-90 season.  On Tuesday night, the Bulls scored 99 points at Central Michigan, their most points ever in a MAC road game and their fourth most points ever in a road contest in school history.

Bulls Hit The Century Mark
    The Bulls recorded 101 points on Tuesday night in their victory over Central Michigan, their highest scoring output ever against a Mid-American Conference team in regulation.  The Bulls scored 107 points in a double overtime loss to Kent State in 2006 and between 2006-17 the Bulls twice put up over 100 points against non Division I opponents.
    The last time that UB put up 100 points in a regulation game against a D-I opponent was Nov. 21, 2001 when they scored 100 points at Chicago State.  Since turning Division I in 1991-92, Tuesday night was the fourth time that the Bulls have scored at least 100 points against a fellow D-I opponent in regulation.

Road Warriors
    Buffalo recorded its sixth MAC road victory on Tuesday night at Ohio, a new school record for conference road wins in a season.  The Bulls had five MAC road wins six times, including each of the last three seasons.  The win at Ohio this season was just UB's fourth ever at the Convocation Center, while the win earlier this season at Kent State, marked just the third ever win at the M.A.C. Center, all coming in the last three year.  UB won six of their final eight road games this season with each of their two losses coming by just a single point at Miami and at Akron.

Seeing Double
    The Bulls have had five different players record double doubles this year in Blake Hamilton, Willie Conner, Nick Perkins, CJ Massinburg, and David Kadiri. The five different players with double-doubles are the most in a season since 2014-15 when Justin Moss, Xavier Ford, Shannon Evans, Rodell Wigginton, and Lamonte Bearden all recorded double-doubles thats year.
    Those five players have combined for 12 double-doubles on the year, led by four each from Hamilton and Perkins. In the win over Western Michigan, Hamilton and Perkins each recorded a double-double as Hamilton had 15 point and 10 assists, while Perkins finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.  In both that game, and the one against Central Michigan at Alumni Arena, Hamilton flirted with triple-doubles.  CJ Massinburg and Willie Conner each recorded their first career double-doubles this season as Massinburg had his first one at Eastern Michigan and most recently had 17 points and 10 rebounds against Akron.  Conner had his first career double-double against Bowling Green with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

How the West Was Won
    The Bulls finished the eight-game regular season against the MAC West by going 6-2, tied for the most wins against the West since 2013-14.  The Bulls swept Central Michigan, while splitting with Ball State.  UB then also beat Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois.  The only team in the West that UB failed to beat was Toledo, which came on the road in the first conference game of the year.

Easy Blake Oven
    Senior Blake Hamilton concludes 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.  Hamilton just missed out on the first triple-double of his career as he had 15 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds against Western Michigan.  He recorded his second 30-point game of the season at Akron, scoring 33 points on 13-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-4 from behind the arc.  He becomes the first UB player with multiple 30-point games in one season since Justin Moss accomplished it in 2014-15.  Hamilton stuffed the stat sheet in the home win over Central Michigan as he again just missed out on a triple double with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists.  Hamilton continued his torrid pace at Ball State with a game-high 25 points, adding eight more assists against the Cardinals. He went over 20 points for the 10th time this year in the win over Miami (OH), scoring 23 points, including a career-high five three pointers. Hamilton added 22 points in the game against Kent State on Tuesday night, the 11th time this year he has eclipsed the 20-point mark. He went over 20 points for the third straight game on Friday night against Akron and in just under two full seasons, Hamilton had 32 points on Senior Day in a win over Bowling Green and he is pushing the 1,000-point mark in a UB uniform as he has 987 points.  Only 18 players in school history have reached the 1,000-point mark.

Free Willie
    Senior Willie Conner was named the MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player last 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. Conner had the first double-double of his career in the win over Bowling Green as he finished with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

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.  He provided a spark in the win over Central Michigan with 13 points and six rebounds.  Kadiri is one of four UB players with double figures in blocks as he is second on the team with 20 blocked shots.  Kadiri added eight points in the second meeting with the Cardinals and in the season series with Ball State, he averaged 15.5 points per game, going 13-of-16 from the floor.  Kadiri went a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor against Ohio, finishing with 14 points.  He currently leads the MAC in field goal percentage in league games at 64.4%. During conference play, Kadiri is averaging 8.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

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 (FL).  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.  Perkins led the Bulls with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Western Michigan.  Perkins added 20 points against Miami, the second straight game that he recorded 20 points off the bench.  Perkins had another 20-point game against Ball State, doing most of his damage in the first half where he had 17 points in just eight minutes.  Perkins had a double-double in the win over Northern Illinois with 11 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. Perkins was named the MAC Sixth Man of the Year, the first UB player to earn that honor since Mark Bortz in 2005.

Mass Production
    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.  Massinburg led the Bulls with 22 points, nine rebounds, and four assists in the win over Kent State.  He had a career-high five three pointers in the victory over Central Michigan, scoring 19 points overall against the Chippewas.  Massinburg had 17 points in the win over Northern Illinois, including 15 points in the second half.  Massinburg followed that performance up with 18 points in the win over Bowling Green.  Massinburg had 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the win at Central Michigan, including the final six points of the game to seal the win for the Bulls. Massinburg had 17 points and 10 rebounds against Akron for his third double-double of the year.  Massinburg had 19 on the win at Ohio, including draining two free throws with 1.8 seconds left to seal the win for UB. Massinburg was named All-MAC Honorable Mention.

Dontay's Peak
    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 had a huge defensive performance against Maine, as he was credited with drawing four charges.  He recorded a career high with 11 points as he started in UB's road win over Kent State.  Caruthers also was solid on the defensive end as he became the first Buffalo player this season to record five steals in a game. Caruthers had five steals for the second straight game against Western Michigan and he leads the Bulls with 36 steals on the year.  In fact, he has recorded more steals in the last two games (10), than all but two other players on the team have all season.  The 10 steals by Caruthers in back-to-back games against Kent State and Western Michigan were the most in a two-game period by a UB player since Byron Mulkey had 13 in the first two games of the 2010-11 season.  Caruthers had one of his most difficult matchups defensively against Central Michigan as he had to guard the nation's leading scorer in Marcus Keene.  But, Caruthers was up for the challenge as Keene went just 7-of-21 from the floor and turned it over seven times.   Caruthers had his best offensive game against Bowling Green as he scored a career-high 18 points, including going 6-of-8 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the free throw line. Caruthers had 12 points and a career-high seven assists against Miami and he has currently scored in double figures in three of his last four games. Caruthers became the first UB player ever named MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Familiar Faces
    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.

Air Jordan
    The Bulls have brought in an impressive freshmen class this year, including the services of point guard Davonta Jordan out of Cocoa, FL. 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 recorded a 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.

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.