Bulls Close Out Non-Conference Action Thursday Night Against NJIT

Bulls Close Out Non-Conference Action Thursday Night Against NJIT

Buffalo (7-5, 0-0 MAC) vs. NJIT (7-6, 0-0 ASUN)
December 28, 2017

Alumni Arena
 - 7:00 pm

Bulls on the Air

Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/TuneIn App

Television - ESPN3

Quick Hits

• The Bulls will close out non-conference play on Thursday night when they host NJIT. UB is looking to win its eighth non-conference game of the season, which would be its highest total since 2014-15.
• Thursday night will mark the first ever meeting between Buffalo and NJIT.  The Bulls are 4-6 all-time against schools currently in the Atlantic Sun Conference. UB has not played an Atlantic Sun team since 2009-10 when it lost to Jacksonville at the UCF Holiday Classic.
• The Bulls hit 17 three-pointers in their loss to nationally-ranked Texas A&M last Thursday, the second most in school history.  Junior CJ Massinburg hit a career high six threes in his homecoming game to Texas. In all, five different players hit three-pointers in the game, four of those hit three or more.
• Senior Wes Clark will make his Alumni Arena debut on Thursday night after becoming eligible last week.  Clark has played in road games at Syracuse and Texas A&M and is averaging 16.0 points and 7.0 assists through two contests.
• The Mid-American Conference is one of just four leagues across the nation where all of their teams have a .500 record or better joining the American, the Big East, and the Big 12.
• As of Wednesday, the Bulls are 42nd in the latest RPI.  All five of UB's loss have come to team's inside the RPI Top 100.  The Bulls are more than 50 spots higher than any other school in the MAC.  UB has also played the sixth toughest schedule nationally according to the NCAA RPI. The next toughest after that belongs to Miami, who checks in at 128.
• Buffalo leads the Mid-American Conference in assists, averaging 16.4 dimes per contest.  UB added 19 more assists to its total against eighth-ranked Texas A&M last week, led by eight assists from Wes Clark and five more from CJ Massinburg.

The Opponent

• NJIT enters Thursday night's game with a 7-6 record following a 99-53 win over Bryn Athryn right before the holiday break. NJIT has won two straight and is 7-2 at home this season, but has lost all four of their road contests this year. The Highlanders have one non-conference game left after this against Brown before Atlantic Sun action starts.
 
• NJIT has three players averaging in double figures led by Anthony Tarke, who is averaging 14.3 points per game. Diandre Wilson adds 11.1 points, while Abdul Lewis is nearly averaging a double-double with 10.7 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per contest.
 
• NJIT was picked to finish eighth in the eight-team Atlantic Sun preseason poll conducted by both the league's coaches and media. Abdul Lewis and Anthony Tarke were both named to the preseason All-Conference Team.
 
•  Brian Kennedy was introduced as the 11th head men's basketball coach in program history on April 15, 2016, after serving as NJIT's top assistant under Jim Engles for four years. Coach Kennedy, whose involvement with the sport of basketball literally covers his entire life, is the son of the late Bob Kennedy, a former college and high school coach and the nephew of Pat Kennedy, who was a Division I head coach for 31 years. He entered the college coaching ranks in 1997 as an assistant coach at DePaul. Kennedy played his college basketball at both Princeton and Monmouth.
 
Dialing From Long Distance
The Bulls had one of their best games from behind the arc in school history in the loss at nationally-ranked Texas A&M on Dec. 21.  The Bulls hit 17 three-pointers in the game, second in school history, and the most since hitting 18 against Troy State on Feb. 22, 1996 when UB went 18-for-40 in the contest.
 
Buffalo shot 17-of-39 from behind the arc against the Aggies as four players hit at least three triples, led by a career-high six three pointers from CJ Massinburg. Senior Wes Clark and juniors Jeremy Harris and Montell McRae each hit three.  McRae was a perfect 3-of-3. The 17 three's made by the Bulls were the most by a MAC school against a Division I opponent this year.
 
Wild, Wild Wes
The Bulls got a huge boost to their lineup prior to the Syracuse game on Dec. 19 as senior Wes Clark was cleared to play by the NCAA, marking his first collegiate game since February 13, 2016 when he played for Missouri.  Clark, who joined UB last January, has been practicing with Buffalo since then, but he was finally able to play in his first game at Syracuse.
 
Clark scored 15 points and had six assists in his UB debut, picking up the start and playing 34 minutes. Clark added 17 points and eight assists against Texas A&M.  He played his high school basketball for Buffalo head coach Nate Oats at Romulus High School right outside of Detroit, MI. 
 
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 scored 29 points against nationally-ranked Cincinnati, his second highest scoring total of his career, while adding 10 rebounds, the first double-digit rebounding performance of the season for UB.  Massinburg was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Cayman Classic.  Massinburg added 25 points in the win over Niagara and 21 points against St. Bonaventure.  Massinburg was named the MAC East Player of the Week following those games against the Big 4, earning that honor for the first time in his career. 
 
Massinburg had his second career 30-point game on Dec. 6 at Delaware as he finished with 30 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.  Massinburg has five 20-point games so far this year.  He recorded his third straight double-double in the win over Robert Morris with 23 points and 10 rebounds, earning his second MAC weekly honor.   In his homecoming to Texas, Massinburg led the Bulls with 20 points and eight rebounds, hitting a career high six three-pointers, against nationally-ranked Texas A&M.
 
Sophomore Sensation
It can be argued that sophomore Davonta Jordan is one of the most improved players in the nation from last season and that was capped off with his first career 20-point game on Wednesday night at Delaware.  Jordan averaged just 2.5 points per game last year, but this season he is averaging 9.4 points per game.  Through the first 12 games, Jordan has 113 points, already surpassing the 76 he scored all of last year.  He has 11 three-pointers, nine more than last year.  On the glass, he averaged 1.8 rebounds last season and this year he is averaging 3.0
 
Jordan is currently 10th in the league in assists at 3.8 assists per game.
 
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.  
 
Oats surpassed his predecessor on Dec. 9 vs. Central Penn as he picked up his 43rd win in his 76th game as head coach. With 44 career wins, Oats is just five away from moving up to seventh on UB's career coaching list.
 
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 had a pair of 17-point games during the Cayman Classic as he recorded double figures in scoring in all three games.  He had17 points and six rebounds against nationally-ranked Cincinnati and added 17 points and four assists in the win over UAB. He had 11 points and five assists against South Dakota State.  His best game so far came against Niagara as he finished with a career-high 23 points, going 5-of-8 from three-point range.  He also added seven rebounds and six assists. Harris recorded his first career double-double against Central Penn and added 14 points and nine rebounds in the win over Robert Morris.
 
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. 
 
Perkins came off the bench for the first time this season against Syracuse and he ended up leading the Bulls in scoring with 18 points, while also pulling down seven rebounds, including six offensive ones.  Perkins has had some of his best games against Power 5 competition.  In addition to 18 against Syracuse on Dec. 19, Perkins had 20 points as a freshman against Miami (FL) in the NCAA Tournament, and last season he added 23 points at Pitt. He added 17 points against SEC foe Texas A&M.
 
Get Smart
Junior Ikenna Smart made his season debut on Saturday against Robert Morris after missing the first nine games of the season due to a back injury.  Playing in his 67th career game, Smart recorded a new career high in scoring with 12 points as he went a perfect 6-of-6 from the field in 21 minutes of action.  Smart was relentless on the offensive glass as he had six rebounds in total, four of those coming on the offensive end.
 
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. He scored a new career high with 13 points against Central Penn.  McRae went a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc against Texas A&M on Dec. 21.
 
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's best game so far this year has been against South Dakota State where he recorded seven point and four rebounds.  Reese also had seven points against St. Bonaventure.  He picked up his first career start at Delaware and in the win over Central Penn, Reese had a career-best 18 points, while adding six rebounds and six assists.
 
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.  Graves finished with nine points and four rebounds in the win over UAB.  He added seven second half points against Delaware, while also pulling down six rebounds.  Graves scored 11 points, while adding six rebounds in the win over Central Penn. He had his second straight double-digit performance with 10 points against Robert Morris.
 
Giving 100%
The Bulls hit the magical 100-point number for the first time this season during their 106-87 victory at Niagara.  The 106 points tied the school record for points scored in a road game, matching the total from March 2, 1974 at Rochester.  It was only the fourth time ever that Buffalo had scored triple figures in a road game and it was the most points in a road game since a 100-92 win at Chicago State on November 21, 2001.
 
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.
 
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)