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Friday, January 05, 2018

UB basketball clashes with Ball State on Saturday

All WNY News     Friday, January 05, 2018    

UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO ATHLETICS



Two of the hottest teams in the Mid-American Conference will square off on Saturday in Muncie, IN as Buffalo travels to Ball State for an interdivisional clash.  Both teams won their league openers on Tuesday night as the Bulls won 104-94 over Toledo and Ball State defeated Eastern Michigan, 72-62.

Ball State holds a slim 15-14 lead in the all-time series with the teams splitting their meetings last year, both winning on the road.  Ball State came away with a 92-77 win at Alumni Arena, but UB won the rematch, a nationally-televised contest in Muncie, 96-69.

Junior CJ Massinburg became the newest member of the 1,000-point club on Tuesday night as he scored 24 points to become the 20th member of the club and the seventh fastest to ever do so, accomplishing it faster than former MAC Players of the Year Turner Battle, Mitchell Watt, and Javon McRea.  He is currently 17th on the all-time scoring list.

The 104 points scored by the Bulls on Tuesday night was their second most ever in a MAC game and the most scored in regulation.  UB's MAC record for points is 107 scored in a double overtime game against Kent State on Feb. 15, 2006.  With their 106 points at Niagara, this is the first time Buffalo has had multiple 100-point games in the same season since 1997-98.

Since becoming eligible on Dec. 19, senior Wes Clark is averaging 21.0 points and 6.3 assists per game over his first four games played.

Junior Nick Perkins, who was named the MAC Sixth Man of the Year last year, has now come off the bench in four straight games and he is averaging 18.3 points per game in those four contests.  He had his first double-double of the year 24 points and 10 boards against Toledo.

Buffalo leads the MAC and is 42nd nationally in scoring offense, averaging 82.7 points per game.  UB has only averaged over 80.0 per game for a season once in their 100 year history.


The Opponent

Ball State is 10-4 on the season 1-0 in league play and the Cardinals are riding a nine-game winning streak, with their last loss coming at Bucknell on Nov. 22.  Like the Bulls, the Cardinals faced some big-time competition in non-conference play, including a last-second win at nationally-ranked Notre Dame on Dec. 5.  This will be Ball State's sixth straight home game.
 
The Cardinals have a balanced squad with three players averaging in double figures and six players averaging 7.9 points per game or better.  Point guard Tayler Persons leads the team with 14.7 points and 4.4 assists per game.  He hit game winners in back-to-back wins over Notre Dame and Valparaiso. Kyle Mallers adds 11.6 points and Tahjai Teague is averaging 10.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.  Trey Moses is the leading rebounder at 7.3 per game.
 
Ball State is a perfect 8-0 this season at Worthen Arena where they have played their last five games.  The Cardinals opened the season winning one of their first five, but they made tough trips to Dayton, Oklahoma, and Oregon during that stretch.
 
James Whitford completed his fourth season as the Ball State men's basketball head coach in 2016-17. Whitford's teams have surpassed 20 wins and shared the Mid-American Conference West Division championship in each of the past two seasons. Whitford served four years on the staff at Arizona, including his final two as the associate head coach. He was with Arizona head coach Sean Miller for eight seasons, dating back to Miller's days guiding the Xavier program.

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