Jan 28, 2019
#18/#17 Buffalo (18-2, 6-1 MAC) vs. Ball State (11-9, 2-5 MAC)
January 29, 2019
Alumni Arena - 7:00 pm
Bulls on the Air
Radio - ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/WHTK 1280 AM Rochester/TuneIn App
Television - ESPN3
Presented by Tully's Good Times Restaurant
• The Bulls return home to face Ball State on Tuesday night looking for their 19th win of the season. UB has won five of the last six meetings against Ball State with the lone loss coming in Buffalo during the 2016-17 season. Buffalo is averaging 88.1 points per game at home, defeating opponents by an average of 23.6 points in eight home contests.
• UB is one of just eight teams with two or fewer loses.
• Buffalo is 23-4 in its last 27 MAC games dating back to the end of the 2016-17 season. UB has lost those four games by a combined 10 points.
• UB moved up to 18th in the latest AP Top 25 rankings on Monday, the 12th straight week the Bulls have been in the polls. The 12 weeks are a new Mid-American Conference record, surpassing the 11 straight weeks that Bowling Green was ranked during the 1961-62 season.
• Buffalo has won 20 straight games at Alumni Arena dating back to last season, tied with Tennessee for the second longest streak in the nation. Houston has the longest home winning streak at 30 in a row. UB has won 13 straight MAC games at home.
• Senior CJ Massinburg is just one point away from 1,700 for his career. He would be just the 22nd active player in the country with at least 1,700 career points. Massinburg is also just 10 points shy of surpassing Mike Martinho for fourth place on UB's all-time scoring list.
• Ball State is 11-9 on the season having struggled since the start of MAC play with a 2-5 record. The Cardinals went 9-4 in non-conference play, but lost three of those to Power 5 opponents. Since the start league play though, Ball State is 0-3 at home and has lost 5 of the last 6 games. Both of Ball State's MAC wins have come on the road at Toledo and at Central Michigan.
• The Cardinals have three players averaging in double figures led by senior Tayler Persons who is averaging 17.0 points and 4.5 assists per game. Tahjai Teague is second on the team at 14.7 points per game and leads Ball State with 7.8 rebounds per contest. K.J. Walton adds 14.3 points per game. In all, five players are averaging at least 8.1 points per game for Ball State this year.
• Ball State was picked to finish second in a crowded MAC West, receiving 11 first place votes, finishing just behind of Eastern Michigan. Ball State joins Buffalo as two of just four teams in the MAC averaging 80 or more points per game this year.
• James Whitford is in his sixth season as head coach at Ball State. Over the past three years, BSU has averaged more than 20 wins per season, won two division championships and knocked off a top-10 team for the first time in 16 years. The Cardinals and Buffalo are the only teams to win at least 10 Mid-American Conference games in each of the past three seasons. In 2017-18, Whitford led Ball State to a 19-13 (10-8 MAC) record and a second straight first-round bye in the MAC Tournament. The campaign was highlighted by an 80-77 win at Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish were ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 9 by the Associated Press. Whitford was introduced as the 19th men's basketball coach in Ball State history on April 10, 2013. In his career as an assistant coach at Arizona, Xavier and Miami University, his teams posted an overall record of 400-208 and made 12 postseason appearances. Nine of those came in the NCAA Tournament, including five Sweet Sixteen appearances and two trips to the Elite Eight.
Bulls Return Home Looking for 21st Straight
Buffalo returns home for its final game of January, looking to extend the nation's second longest home winning streak to 21 when the Bulls host Ball State. With student finally back on campus, it is expected to be quite the environment in Alumni Arena. UB enters the game at 18-2 on the year and the Bulls are tied for the best record in league play at 6-1.
Ball State has lost five of its last six games, but has had quite the road schedule as they are playing their fourth road game in their last five. UB will be the third nationally ranked team that Ball State has played joining Purdue and Virginia Tech. The Cardinals are currently 95th in the latest NET rankings. This is the sixth meeting for UB already against a MAC West opponent and Ball State is the third MAC West team to come play at Alumni Arena this season.
Buffalo went over 100 points for the second time this season, tying a season high with 110 points against Toledo on Tuesday, its most ever against a MAC opponent. Now in his fourth season, head coach Nate Oats had recorded 100 or more points eight times, including seven against Division 1 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 Toledo marked the fifth 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 is the only other team to do 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.
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 has set a new MAC record as UB has now been ranked for 12 straight weeks, surpassing the previous mark set by the 1961-62 Bowling Green Falcons at 11 weeks. The Bulls are currently 17th in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, the 11th week ranked there.
Three MAC programs have been in the Top 10 in their program's history as Bowling Green was seventh back during the 1961-62 season. Toledo, who has spent 22 weeks in the Top 25 in their history, was ninth in 1963-64, and Ohio has the highest ranking ever by a MAC school as they were fifth for two weeks in 1969-70.
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.
Massinburg Named To Oscar Robertson Midseason Watch List
Senior CJ Massinburg has done it all so far through the non-conference portion of 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. Most recently had 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. 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 as he moved into fifth place on UB's all-time scoring list 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. He now has 1,699 career points and next up on the list for Massinburg is Mike Martinho (1994-98), who had 1,708 points in his career. 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. Massinburg is one of only three players currently in the nation with over 1,600 career points, 600 career rebounds, and 250 career assists.
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 slightly ahead of that pace, averaging 84.8 points per game, which is 16th 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. Following the 110 point outburst against Toledo, the Bulls have now scored 80 or more points 67 times in the 123 games with Nate Oats as head coach. The Bulls are 58-9 in those games when scoring at least 80 points. UB has reached it 13 times this year in 20 games, the sixth highest total in the nation.
History On The Horizon
The Bulls are looking to accomplish something this season that has never been done in Mid-American Conference history as no MAC school has ever won four conference tournament titles in a five-year period. Buffalo became the first MAC school to win three in a four-year period since Kent State did it in 1999, 2001, 2002. The MAC Tournament dates back to the 1979-80 season.
Perks And Recreation
Senior Nick Perkins 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.
The Harris Poll
Senior Jeremy Harris had a breakout year for the Bulls last season in his first season with the Blue and White. 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.
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.
The Bulls also have an in-season tournament title to their credit as they won the Belfast Hall of Fame Classic with wins over Milwaukee and San Francisco. To date, Buffalo is the only loss for San Francisco as the Dons are 12-2 on the season, including a win over PAC-12 member, California.
One of the most improved players in the entire Mid-American Conference last season was junior point guard Davonta Jordan. After averaging under 3.0 points per game during his freshman season, Jordan averaged 6.5 points per game last year as a sophomore, while adding 144 assists, the most on the team. Through two years, Jordan is the only player in the Mid-American Conference to record 200 career assists over his freshman and sophomore seasons. He is currently UB's active career leader in assists with 298.
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 leads the Bulls with 17 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.
UB's senior guard Dontay Caruthers is one of the top defenders in the Mid-American Conference as he was named the 2016-17 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, but last season, Caruthers played in just 25 games, missing 11 with a leg injury. When playing, Caruthers averaged 6.7 points per game, including a pair of 20-point performances.
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. He is second on the team with 15 drawn charges on the year.
Sophomore Jayvon Graves is averaging 9.3 points per game through the first 20 contests, 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 tying his career high against Dartmouth with 16 points, making his first appearance on Sportscenter's Top 10 plays this season. He added 16 more points in the win over Marist, tying his career high with four three pointers. Graves recorded a new career high with 19 points in the win over St. Bonaventure, knocking down a new career best five three-pointers. He had 10 points on his birthday at Canisius. 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.
The Real McRae
Senior Montell McRae is averaging 6.8 points per game, coming off a career high 18 points in the MAC opener against Eastern Michigan. McRae had a stretch in the first half where he scored 12 straight points, including back-to-back three pointers, which gave the Bulls the lead for good. McRae is actually 28-of-31 from inside the arc (90.3%). He has not missed a two point basket during MAC play where he is 17-of-17 from inside the arc. Defensively, McRae is third on the team in charges as he has drawn 11 on the year.