Bulls Face Nationally-Ranked Cincinnati To Open Cayman Classic Monday Night

UB Bench Celebration

Buffalo (2-0, 0-0 MAC) vs. #12 Cincinnati (3-0, 0-0 AAC)
November 20, 2017

John Gray Gymnasium
 - 7:30 pm


Bulls on the Air

Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/TuneIn App

Television - FloHoops/CBS Sports Digital

Quick Hits

• The Bulls will look for their first 3-0 start to a season since 1986-87 when UB faces Cincinnati in the opening round of the Cayman Islands Classic on Monday night.
• This will be the fourth straight season that the Bulls play a nationally-ranked program during their non-conference schedule.  In three of those four years, UB has played at least two nationally ranked opponents, which they will do this year with #12 Cincinnati and #16 Texas A&M.
• The Bulls are 6-22 all-time against schools currently in the American Athletic Conference, but they have not played an AAC school since the league was formed in 2013 out of the old Big East.
 • Junior Nick Perkins recorded a career high 26 points in the season opener against Canisius on Nov. 11.  The 26 points were the most by a UB player in a season opener since Nikolai Alexeev had 26 against Niagara on Nov. 19, 1999.
• Sophomore Davonta Jordan has 27 points through two games this season.  Last year, it took Jordan seven games before he saw his 27th point.
• Buffalo was picked to win the MAC East Division in the preseason polls, the second time in school history that UB was picked to win the East and the first time since 2004-05.  Buffalo received 24 first place votes and nine votes to win the MAC Tournament.
• Juniors CJ Massinburg and Nick Perkins were named to the preseason All-MAC East Division Team, claiming two of the five spots.
•The Bulls return two of the individual award winners from last year in Nick Perkins, who was named the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year, and Dontay Caruthers, who was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

The Opponent

• Cincinnati will be the first of two teams currently nationally ranked that the Bulls will meet during non-conference play.  The Bearcats are #12 in the latest AP Poll and are 3-0 on the season following a 97-54 win over Coppin State on Thursday night.  Cincinnati is averaging 102.0 points per game during their first three contests.
 
• Six Cincinnati players are averaging in double figures in points over the first three games, led by 16.3 points per game from Jarron Cumberland.  Jacob Evans is second on the team at 13.0 points per game and Cane Broome is averaging 12.0 points per game.  Gary Clark is the team's leading rebounder at 7.3 boards per game and he is averaging 11.0 points.
 
• Cincinnati has thoroughly dominated its first three opponents, winning by an average of 41.3 points per game.  The Bearcats have averaged 54.3 rebounds per game, while their opponents are averaging just 29.0 rebounds per contest.  Cincinnati is shooting just under 50% from the field.
 
•  Mick Cronin has been the head coach at Cincinnati for 11 years and has made seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments, while registering 30 wins last year. Success seems to follow Cronin, who came to Cincinnati after serving three years as head coach at Murray State (2004-06). As mentor of the Racers, Cronin compiled a 69-24 overall record while earning a pair of NCAA tournament berths.  He began as an assistant at Cincinnati from 1997-2001 and was the associate head coach at Louisville from 2002-03.
 
Bulls Picked To Win MAC East
The University at Buffalo men's basketball team has been picked to win the Mid-American Conference East Division and received nine tournament championship votes, second most in the league, it was announced by the league office in their annual preseason poll voted on by a panel of all 12 MAC head coaches and 18 media members.
 
The Bulls, who are led by third-year head coach Nate Oats, received 166 points and 24 of the 30 first place votes in the East Division to finish atop the preseason poll.  This is the second time that Buffalo has been picked as the preseason winner of the MAC East and the first time since prior to the 2004-05 season.  Buffalo also received nine votes to win the 2018 MAC Tournament Championship, just one behind Western Michigan.
 
Perkins and Massinburg Earn Preseason Nod
Juniors Nick Perkins and  CJ Massinburg were two of the five players named to the preseason All-MAC East Division squad.
 
Massinburg was named All-MAC Honorable Mention last year as he averaged 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds a year ago.  He is Buffalo's returning leading scorer and despite missing eight games during non-conference play last year, he is in striking distance of 1,000 career points in just his third season with the team.  Massinburg had many key performances last season, including scoring the final six points, breaking a 93-93 tie and earning a road victory at Central Michigan.  He also hit the last two free throws to seal a road victory at Ohio.
 
Perkins was named the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year last year, just the second player in school history to earn that honor.  Perkins averaged 12.4 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds last year as he came off the bench in 14 of 32 games, including 14 of the last 15 games of the year.  Known for his 20 points in the NCAA Tournament against Miami as a freshman, Perkins has always played some of his best games against top competition.  He had 23 points last year at Pitt and a career-best 24 points at St. Bonaventure.  He also had 21-point games against Western Michigan and Ball State.
 
Bulls Off To Fast Start
For just the fifth time since joining Division I the Bulls have started a season with a 2-0 record, and the first time since 2011-12.  The Bulls are looking for their first 3-0 start since 1986-87.
Buffalo was one of six MAC teams to start 2-0 this year, but of those six, UB is one of only three teams to do it against all Division I schools.
 
In The Nick Of Time
Junior Nick Perkins got off to a fast start to the 2017-18 season as the Ypsilanti, MI native had a career-high 26 points in the season-opening win over Canisius.  The 26 points were the most by a UB player in a season opener since Nikolai Alexeev had 26 against Niagara on November 19, 1999.
 
Caruthers Named MAC Defensive Player Of The Year
Junior Dontay Caruthers became the first players in school history to be named MAC Defensive Player of the year last season.
 
He started 18 games during the season, averaging 5.9 points in conference games.  He also led the MAC with 37 steals in league play and had 58 for the year, finishing just outside the top 10 in school history for single-season steals. He had a career-high 18 points in a road victory at Bowling Green last year, beginning a stretch of three straight games in double figures.
 
Leading The Charge
Head coach Nate Oats begins his third year on the Buffalo sidelines, having comprised a record of 37-30 during his first two years.  He is the only coach in UB school history to record 20 wins in his first season as a head coach and his 37 wins in his first two years are the second most by a UB coach behind only Bobby Hurley, who had 42 wins over his first two years.
 
Mass Production
After getting off to a slow start against Canisius, junior CJ Massinburg was the best player on the court for the Bulls in the win over Jacksonville St.  He led the Bulls in all three major categories as he finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
 
Massinburg missed much of preseason practice with a knee injury and did not play in the exhibition against Rhode Island.  He saw 16 minutes of action in the other exhibition against Daemen and then played in the season-opener against Canisius.
 
Air Jordan
Sophomore Davonta Jordan will look to take an increased role this season, providing depth at the point guard position. Jordan played in 31 games last season, starting five of those early on. He started the season opener as a freshman at Niagara and finished second on the team in assists with 79.  Jordan had a career-high 10 assists at nationally-ranked Creighton.
 
Jordan had the best game of his career in the season-opener as he scored a career-high 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including a perfect 2-for-2 from behind the arc.  He followed that up with 11 points in the win over Jacksonville State.. Last year, it took Jordan seven games to score 26 points, while this year he has done it in two.
 
Deuces Wild
One the most of anticipated newcomers will wear #2 on the Buffalo team is junior college transfer Jeremy Harris, who came to UB from Gulf Coast College, where he was ranked as the second best junior college player in the nation by JUCORecruiting.com.
 
Harris led the Bulls with 21 points and added 10 rebounds in the overtime contest against Rhode Island in the charity exhibition.  He had a stretch for the Bulls where he scored eight straight points, erasing an eight-point deficit on his own.  He led the team with 17 shots taken, but also added three assists and three steals. Harris recorded double doubles in both exhibition games as he added 13 points and 11 rebounds against Daemen.
 
Harris is a dynamic shooter as shown by his one performance last year where he had 10 three-pointers in a game.  He is a seasoned veteran, who has played basketball at  all levels, beginning with high school, before moving on to prep school for a year at Fishburne Military School.  He then played two years and junior college before making his way to UB.
 
Cleveland Is The Reason
A native of Cleveland, OH Montell McRae is the new man in the middle for the Bulls. A transfer from South Plains Junior College, the same school as former UB player David Kadiri.
 
In the exhibition against Rhode Island, McRae had 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, while adding an assist, three blocks, and a steal. McRae had 10 points in the win over Jacksonville State for his first regular season double figures performance
 
McRae was part of a South Plains team ranked first nationally for much of the season as they went 32-2 last year.
 
Reese Lightning
Freshman James Reese has already ignited the Buffalo crowd prior to even playing his first regular season game with the Bulls. It began over the summer, when Reese made national headlines for his dunks at the UB team camp, showing up on media outlets across the country.
 
Reese's athleticism extends to just his dunking and he made a strong impression in the charity exhibition against Rhode Island as he had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
 
Reese was named the State Player of the Year in South Carolina as he played his ball for A.C. Flora where he won two state titles, leading his team to a  21-2 record during his senior season.  He averaged 25.0 points per game during the year.
 
Luck Of The Irish
Freshman Jayvon Graves comes to Buffalo from one of the most well known high schools in the country in the St.Vincent-St. Mary's out of Akron, OH, the same high school as NBA MVP and World Champion, LeBron James.  Nicknamed the Fighting Irish, Graves and his high school teammates won the Ohio State Championship last season and Graves was named the Ohio State Player of the Year.
 
He had three points against Rhode Island, draining a three-pointer. Graves had a strong second half against Daemen and nearly put up a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.
 
Get Smart
Junior Ikenna Smart returns this year for his third season of competition and his fourth overall with the team.  Smart, who will miss the beginning of the season due to a back injury, is the most veteran player on the roster.
 
Smart played in 31 games last year, including 16 starts.  He started three games in conference play before coming off the bench for 14 of the 17 MAC games he played in.  He had one of his best weekends of the season early on at the Great Alaska Shootout, where he scored 10 points against Nevada and then finished with eight points and nine rebounds against Weber State.
 
Brock And Roll
After redshirting his first season with the Bulls last year, redshirt freshman Brock Bertram will look to make an impact off the bench for the Bulls.  Bertram is the tallest player on the UB roster and he has displayed good footwork and ball control in the post.
 
Bertram was a finalist for Mr. Basketball in the state of Minnesota as he averaged 15.0 points and 10 rebounds per game as his team went 32-1 during his senior year and 118-7 during his career.
 
Bertram had a career-high six rebounds in the win over Jacksonville State, including three offensive boards.
 
Wes, Please!
Senior Wes Clark will miss the beginning of the season as he finishes his NCAA eligibility requirements, but the Missouri transfer is expected to make an immediate impact for the Bulls when he becomes eligible in mid-December.
 
Clark played his high school basketball for head coach Nate Oats at Romulus High School outside of Detroit where the pair won a State Championship together.  
 
Bulls Unveil Highly Touted Recruiting Class
Third-year head men's basketball coach Nate Oats has announced his signing class for the 2018-19 season, which includes three highly touted recruits.  National scouting services have the Buffalo class amongst the top 60 nationally, making it the highest rated class in school history. Included in the class are a pair of ESPN four-star rated recruits and a junior college transfer:
Jeenathan Williams (6-7, SF, Rochester, NY/Prolific Prep)
Ronaldo "Rondo" Segu (6-0, PG, Orlando, FL/Orlando Christian Prep)
Javion Hamlet (6-3, PG, Memphis, TN/Motlow State College)