Canisius (5-3) vs. Buffalo (4-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 11, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: First Niagara Center (19,200) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Canisius 3-0, Buffalo 4-0. Away Record: Canisius 0-2, Buffalo 0-2. Neutral Record: Canisius 2-1, Buffalo 0-0. Conference Record: Canisius 2-0, Buffalo 0-0. Series Record: Canisius leads, 26-15.
GAME NOTES: Cross-town rivals clash on Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center, as the Buffalo Bulls take on the Canisius Golden Griffins in non- conference action.
Canisius opened up Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play last weekend with a pair of wins over Saint Peter's (82-67) and Siena (93-78) to improve to 5-3 on the season. The Griffs will only play one of their next seven games in their home arena.
Buffalo is also carrying a win streak into this matchup. After opening the season with back-to-back road losses, the Bulls enjoyed an undefeated four- game homestand, with their most recent triumph coming over St. Bonaventure on Saturday, 78-73.
Canisius leads the all-time series with Buffalo, 26-15, which includes a 71-64 victory in last season's bout on Nov. 20, 2012.
Despite getting outshot from the field by Siena their last time out, 56.1 percent to 49.2 percent, the Griffs still cruised to a 15-point victory thanks to an outstanding 15-of-26 showing from 3-point range. Billy Baron was the spark plug in the victory with 21 points, while also filling up the stat sheet elsewhere with 13 assists, five rebounds and two steals. Dominique Raney (19 points) and Zach Lewis (18) both set career highs, and the duo combined to shoot 8-of-13 from beyond the arc. Jordan Heath rounded out the balanced effort with 15 points. On the season, Canisius puts up a solid 74.4 points per game, but it's not enough to support its lackluster play on the defensive end of the floor (75.2 ppg). Baron brings 19.9 points and 4.6 assists per game to the table, while Heath (11.4 ppg) drains 56.9 percent of his field goal attempts and 48 percent of his tries from long distance. Chris Perez (11.3 ppg) is also off to a strong start.
The Bulls were locked up in a back-and-forth battle with St. Bonaventure in their latest bout, but down by three with under four minutes to play, they ran off an 8-0 run to pull away. On top of shooting 45.7 percent from the floor, they pieced together an outstanding effort from the charity stripe (28-of-32). Shannon Evans and Jarryn Skeete both scored 17 points, with Evans doing his damage in just 24 minutes off the bench. Similarly to Canisius, Buffalo scores nearly as many points (73.8 ppg) as it allows (71.3 ppg), although it shoots just 42.5 percent from the field, including 30.1 percent from 3-point territory. Javon McCrea is one of the best forwards in the mid-major ranks, posting 16.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game on nearly 58 percent from the field. Joshua Freelove (12.2 ppg) is the only other player in double figures, although Jarod Oldham (9.7 ppg, 5.2 apg) and Skeete (9.0 ppg) are both regular contributors as well.
Although Buffalo has arguably this matchup's best player in McCrea, Canisius has the more well-rounded squad and should find a way to extend its winning streak to three games.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Canisius 76, Buffalo 73
12/11 10:33:46 ET