This will be a weekly feature published every Sunday on From the 300 Level and will include recaps, podcasts and any other additional Big 4 Basketball content we can think of. You can follow Mike Bundt on Twitter @Mike_Bundt.
One of the best things about having a weekly blog is tracking how things change on a week-to-week basis.
You get to see how teams develop over the course of the season. Here’s a few quick thoughts as we approach February:
- Buffalo is the top mid-major in the country outside of Gonzaga, If you even categorize the Zags that way anymore.
- Canisius is one of three teams (Iona, Monmouth) in the MAAC that will battle for the 2-seed behind Rider.
- Niagara is the most inconsistent team in the MAAC. They have the ability to win or lose against any given conference opponent.
- St. Bonaventure is growing even if their record doesn’t indicate it. They showed tremendous progress in their double-overtime loss versus Dayton.
With that said, here’s another edition of Stock Up, Stock Down!
#16 Buffalo: 17-1 (5-0), Last Week: Wins vs. Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan
You knew conference play wasn’t going to be easy!
Buffalo was challenged this past week with Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan taking them down to the wire.
The Bulls struggled on the road in Kalamazoo on Tuesday evening, trailing the Broncos 33-22 in the first half, one of their largest deficits of the season.
UB battled back, ending the first half on a 19-4 run, taking a 43-39 lead into the break but struggled once again to pull away in the second half.
Western Michigan kept it close the entire game, making it a contest until the final minutes.
Josh Davis had himself a night for the Broncos, finishing with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists.
On the other side of the ball, Jeremy Harris struggled from the field (5-16) but still recorded a double-double, posting 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Three other Bulls joined him in double-figures with Nick Perkins stepping up to the tune of 17 points and five rebounds.
Buffalo led 77-75 with 5:45 remaining, finishing the game on an 11-4 run to escape 88-79.
On Friday, UB returned home for their return matchup versus Eastern Michigan. The Bulls defeated the Eagles 74-58 two weeks prior in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
EMU had been looking better of late, picking up wins over MAC preseason contenders, Ball State and Kent State.
Buffalo was looking to extend their 19-game home winning streak and they did exactly that, using a late 17-1 run to defeat Eastern Michigan 77-65.
Their 20-game home winning streak at Alumni Arena now ranks second in the nation.
It was a sloppy game for the Bulls. They had 16 turnovers which helped the Eagles stay within striking distance for most of the night.
Outside of that, Buffalo looked solid, controlling the glass and recording assists on 23 of their 27 field goals.
CJ Massinburg and Nick Perkins had standout performances.
Massinburg posted his 3rd, 30-plus point game of his UB career, finishing with 31 points and five rebounds. Perkins was equally vital, going up against the talented EMU bigs, posting 21 points and six rebounds.
With the performance, Perkins surpassed 1,500 career points, becoming one of four players in program history with 1,500 points and 650 rebounds.
The Bulls also received solid performances from Jayvon Graves and Davonta Jordan with Graves scoring 10 points and Jordan dishing eight assists.
An interesting note, with Virginia’s loss to Duke, Buffalo is now one of six one-loss teams remaining across the country with no undefeated programs left.
Syracuse/West Virginia update:
Two of Buffalo’s top victories of the season have come against Syracuse and West Virginia.
It’s always special for in-state schools to defeat the Orange but it was starting to look less impressive following the Cuse’s loss to Georgia Tech last weekend.
But boy did Syracuse respond in a big way, upsetting No. 1 Duke! That win vastly improves the Bulls resume.
Also helping, West Virginia upsetting No. 7 Kansas in Morgantown on Saturday. The Mountaineers have been a tremendous disappointment this season, stumbling out to a 9-9 (1-5) start.
However, their win over the Jayhawks proves they’re still a tough out, making UB’s victory over WVU look much better than it did one week ago.
I have to give a round of applause to the Buffalo community for finally giving the Bulls the support they deserve.
They’ve had back-to-back home games with 6,000+ in the house with Friday’s crowd against Eastern Michigan ranking as the 8th largest attendance in Alumni Arena history (6,193).
I’ve never seen so many people interested in keeping tabs on UB basketball. That includes the general public and the local media.
It’s a great sight and something I’m hoping will continue into next season.
And yes, I’m well aware that a lot of things will go into determining if it’s sustainable or not moving forward.
cough…Nate Oats future…cough
Buffalo will move up in the polls once again this week. The question is, how far?
They should jump Florida State, Auburn and Texas Tech. Virginia Tech and Kansas will fall but probably not far enough for the Bulls to pass them.
With that said, my expectation is for UB to rise to 13th in Monday’s AP Poll.
- With their win over Eastern Michigan, Buffalo has the second longest home winning streak in the country at 20 games.
- Only four players in UB history have 1,500 points and 650 rebounds. CJ Massinburg and Nick Perkins make up half of the list.
- The Bulls are one of six one-loss teams across the country.
- The 10 straight weeks ranked are the second longest ever by a MAC team, just one week shy of the 11 straight weeks from Bowling Green in the 1961-62 season.
- At 16-1, the Bulls have their best record in school history through 17 games.
Next Week: at Northern Illinois, at Kent State
Canisius: 7-11 (4-2), Last Week: Wins vs. Quinnipiac and Fairfield
Be on the lookout Griffs fans!
It feels like every time I categorize Canisius as stock up, they respond by reversing course the next week.
That said, I’m confident the Golden Griffins are finally on the right track… I hope!
Canisius picked up a pair of quality conference wins this past week, defeating Quinnipiac and Fairfield to improve to 4-0 in MAAC road games.
Their victory over Quinnipiac was a great defensive effort by the Griffs, holding the Bobcats to 62 points and under 38% from the field.
The game was back-and-forth featuring 16 lead changes and 12 ties. It was a gutty performance for the Griffs, entering the final minute down 63-61.
Isaiah Reese drove the lane, trying the game with 50 seconds left. Canisius responded defensively, forcing a turnover, setting up Takal Molson’s game-winning basket with 5.2 seconds remaining to give the Griffs their 6th win of the season.
It was a special evening for Reese who posted 11 points, nine assists and four blocks. He became the 38th player and 9th junior in Canisius history to surpass the 1,000 point milestone after knocking down a 3-pointer with 4:23 remaining.
Takal Molson and Scott Hitchon joined Reese in double-figures, finishing with 18 and 15 respectively.
On Saturday, Canisius received some secondary scoring from Jibreel Faulkner and Malik Johnson, picking up their second consecutive win on the road over Fairfield.
Faulkner was a perfect, 6-6 from the field, finishing with a team-high 16 points while Johnson had himself a game, posting 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
One upping both of them was Isaiah Reese who nearly recorded a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
It was a close game throughout, transitioning from a low-scoring first half to a fast-paced, action packed second half.
Canisius shot 62.5% from the field during the final 20 minutes, using an 18-6 run over a span of 8:02 to take a 55-43 lead with 6:52 left to play.
From there, they were able to salt it away, winning 73-68. With the victory, the Griffs are tied with Iona for 3rd place in the MAAC.
Canisius is starting to play like the team I expected heading into MAAC play. I’m still not 100% sure whether or not they will sustain their recent success or revert back to how they were playing just one week ago.
One thing is clear, they’re one of the top four teams in the MAC with Rider, Monmouth and Iona.
The Griffs have gone 0-2 against the aforementioned teams. For them to be a true contender, that will need to change this week when they host the Monmouth Hawks.
- Reese is the ninth Canisus junior to score 1,000 points in his career, and he is the third-straight Griffs’ junior to reach the career scoring milestone.
- Johnson’s five assists against Fairfield gives him five-or-more assists in a game 38 times in his career. He now has 357 career assists, which is seventh-best in school history.
- Reese’s two makes from 3-point land Saturday moves him into 11th place all-time on the school’s career 3-point field goals made list with 138.
Next Week: vs. Monmouth
Niagara: 9-10 (2-4), Last Week: Loss at Siena, Win at Quinnipiac
Niagara had another inconsistent week on the court.
They jumped out to a strong start against Siena, opening the game on a 12-2 run only to see the Saints respond with a 12-2 run of their own.
Siena kept their run going, extending it to 29-6, taking a 31-18 lead before heading into halftime up seven.
It was the same story in the second half with the Saints controlling the majority of the game.
James Towns led Niagara with 21 points while Marvin Prochet finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
It was a miserable offensive performance for the Purple Eagles, finishing with just 57 points. Niagara shot 39% from the field including 4-22 (18%) from deep.
With numbers like that, it’s not surprising they were outplayed as badly as they were.
Things drastically improved for Niagara against Quinnipiac.
Marvin Prochet went off! The Purple Eagles senior leader went 9-11 from the field, scoring a career-high 24 points.
Chris Barton and Raheem Solomon both contributed solid minutes, combining for 26 points. Niagara shot 51.9% as a team, including a much improved 11-19 (57.9%) from behind the arc.
Also impressive, they held the Bobcats bench to zero points. That said, Niagara did their best to give away the game in the final minute.
Up four with one minute remaining, the Purple Eagles missed their final seven free throws, giving Quinnipiac multiple opportunities to tie the game.
Fortunately for Chris Casey and company, none of the Bobcats prayers found the bottom of the net as Niagara picked up their 9th victory of the season.
If we’re being completely honest, the Purple Eagles are a middle of the pack team in one of the bottom conferences across the country.
They have enough talent to compete with anyone in the MAAC, minus possibly Rider. That said, they’re also capable of losing to anyone on any given night.
Their inconsistency can be maddening at times but I’m still encouraged about their future.
Their next four games are at home. If they can find a way to go 3-1 over that stretch, they’ll set themselves up for an entertaining February.
- Against Quinnipiac, the Purple Eagles shot a season-high 51.9 percent from the field and a season-high 58 percent from the 3-point line. Their 11 3-pointers are the second most this season.
- Niagara outscored Quinnipiac in bench points, 21-0.
Next Week: vs. St. Peter’s, vs. Monmouth
St. Bonaventure: 6-12 (2-3), Last Week: Losses vs. Rhode Island and Dayton
That. Was. Heartbreaking.
St. Bonaventure was so close to picking up a quality conference win over Dayton on Saturday afternoon. The Bonnies were up 63-55 with 4:31 remaining when they Flyers started clawing their way back.
Dayton went on a 10-1 run, taking a one-point lead but the fun was only beginning.
The two teams went to double-overtime before deciding a winner with UD squeaking out an 89-86 victory, snapping the Bonnies 14-game home winning streak versus Atlantic 10 opponents.
Courtney Stockard was phenomenal. The Bonnies senior forward finished with a career-high 36 points and 10 rebounds, seeing the court for 48 minutes.
LaDarien Griffin shined as well, adding 18 points and five rebounds.
It was an encouraging effort for St. Bonaventure moving forward with 60% of their starting lineup comprised of freshmen.
Dominick Welch started on Saturday in place of Nelson Kaputo and Jalen Poyser who both missed the game with head injuries.
Welch finished with seven points and five rebounds, returning to the starting lineup for the first time since returning from his own injury.
The Bona freshmen have looked solid at times but they’ve also gone through their share of struggles.
Kyle Lofton went 8-30 from the field during the Bonnies past two losses with Osun Osunniyi not faring much better, averaging 5.5 points against Rhode Island and Dayton.
St. Bonaventure has fallen to 2-3 in conference play with their two wins coming against a pair of teams at the bottom of the A10 standings (St. Joe’s, Fordham).
It’s too early for Bona fans to give up on this season but it’s time for them to lower their expectations. The Bonnies performance against Dayton shows they can compete with the rest of the league and possibly finish in the middle of the pack.
It also showed they have room for a lot of improvement. While it would be nice praying for a conference tournament run come March, that’s wishful thinking in my opinion.
My biggest hope is that the Bonnies continue to stay competitive in conference play, win the games they’re “supposed” to win and finish around .500 in the Atlantic 10.
In that scenario, St. Bonaventure’s freshmen class will get a taste of winning, continue to grow and get some much needed experience in the A10 Tournament.
That’s the best outcome for their season in my opinion.
- Against a high-pressure Rhode Island defense, St. Bonaventure committed 18 turnovers that led to 20 points for the Rams.
- Courtney Stockard recorded a career-high 36 points in the Bonnies loss vs. Dayton.
- Bona’s loss vs. Dayton snapped a 14-game home winning streak in A10 play.
- St. Bonaventure used their 9th different starting lineup of the season against Dayton.
Next Week: at UMass, at Richmond
Facts courtesy of the Buffalo, Niagara, St. Bonaventure and Niagara athletic departments.