Buffalo (0-0) at Texas A&M (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 8, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Arena (12,989) -- College Station, Texas. Television: 12thManTV. Home Record: Buffalo 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Away Record: Buffalo 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Texas A&M Aggies begin the 2013-14 season with a six-game homestand, starting with Friday night's opener versus the Buffalo Bulls.
Buffalo had established itself as one of the Mid-American Conference's best squads in recent years, winning at least 18 games in four straight campaigns prior to last season's 14-20 mark, which prompted the firing of head coach Reggie Witherspoon. The Bulls made an offseason splash by hiring former Duke star Bobby Hurley. The first-time head coach had spent the last few years as an assistant at both Wagner and Rhode Island.
In the Aggies' first season in the SEC, and second under head coach Billy Kennedy, they showed a three-game improvement from 2011-12 by going 17-14 overall, but the league schedule proved to be their downfall, finishing only 7-11 in conference play, and thus missed out on the postseason for the second straight year.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.
Luckily for the Bulls, they return most of their top talent from a season ago, giving Hurley a great chance at bringing the squad back toward the top of the MAC standings. The anchor at both ends of the floor win once again be forward Javon McCrea, who was named a First Team All-MAC selection in 2012-13 after putting up 18.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game while shooting 55.7 percent from the floor. With opposing teams focusing mostly on McCrea, there are plenty of opportunities for long-distance shooters like Will Regan (11.1 ppg) to make a splash from beyond the arc. Jarryn Skeete (7.1 ppg) and Auraum Nuriankh (5.8 ppg) also return, as does Jarod Oldham, who averaged 10.1 points in 11 games before a wrist injury prematurely ended his season.
Texas A&M, which made the NCAA Tournament field in every season from 2006-11, will have its work cut out for it this season, as it has lost two of its top performers to graduation in Elston Turner (17.5 ppg) and Ray Turner (9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg). Expected to pick up the scoring slack will be Fabyon Harris, who poured in 12.0 points per game as the second option last season. Also returning to the starting lineup are guards J-Mychal Reese (6.2 ppg) and Alex Caruso (5.5 ppg, 3.4 apg) as well as forward Kourtney Roberson (6.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg). Of the six newcomers, 6-foot-11 freshman Dylan Jones appears in line for the most playing time, at least at the outset.
Buffalo should show improvement this season, and McCrea will cause matchup problems in the paint for Texas A&M, but if the Aggies' experienced guards can knock down some shots early, they should be able to get the season off on the right foot in front of an amped up home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 67, Buffalo 63
11/08 10:43:46 ET