Buffalo (5-8) at Tulsa (7-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 2, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reynolds Center (8,335) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: None. Home Record: Buffalo 3-2, Tulsa 4-1. Away Record: Buffalo 2-3, Tulsa 1-3. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-3, Tulsa 2-2. Conference Record: Buffalo 0-0, Tulsa 0-0. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: The stumbling Tulsa Golden Hurricane will face off with the suddenly hot Buffalo Bulls in the final non-conference game of the season for both teams on Wednesday at the Reynolds Center.
Buffalo has won three of its last four games. The Bulls are now 5-8 overall this season after struggling in the early going. Up next for Buffalo is a trip to face Ohio in the Mid-American Conference opener.
Tulsa traveled to the Sunshine State to face Florida State last time out and was routed 82-63. The loss was the third in the last four games for Tulsa which now has an overall record of 7-6. The Golden Hurricane have played well at home with a record of 4-1 at the Reynolds Center. Tulsa is one the road in its first two games of the Conference USA schedule, beginning at SMU on Sunday.
These teams met for the first, and only time, during the 2001-2002 season when Tulsa handed the Bulls an 80-75 defeat.
It was no surprise to see Buffalo dominate in its most recent victory as the Bulls easily got past Division II foe Notre Dame College (Ohio), 84-64. The Bulls shot 51.9 percent from the floor in the game and assisted on 26 of their field goals. A 38-18 edge in points in the paint didn't hurt either. Javon McCrea was the lead scorer with 17 points.
McCrea's effort against Notre Dame College was a good sign. The Bulls' leading scorer at 15.3 points per game had been hounded in his past two games when he combined for just five total points. Before that he had scored at least 13 points in 10 straight contests. McCrea is also the team's leading rebounder (6.2 ppg). The Bulls have had to deal without versatile guard Jarod Oldham (10.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.4 apg) who has been out since mid December due to wrist surgery. Will Regan (10.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) has taken up the mantle as the second scoring option, while Tony Watson (9.6 ppg, 3.5 apg) has been sparking the Bulls off the bench. As a team, the Bulls score 64.5 points per game and shoot at a 44.9 percent clip.
Tulsa fell apart in the second half against Florida State. The Golden Hurricane went into the break trailing by just three points but allowed the Seminoles to hit 56.7 percent of their shots in the second-half en route to the double-digit victory.
The Golden Hurricane are scoring 67.5 points per game, while shooting a solid 45.4 percent from the field. Tulsa's scoring average is in the bottom half of Conference USA as is the team's assists total (10.8 per game). The injury bug has also plagued Tulsa, as swingman Rashad Smith (14.5 ppg) has been out since mid-November (foot). With Smith out, James Woodard (13.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) has taken on the role of top offensive option. Scottie Haralson (9.8 ppg) has the ability to score but needs to improve on his shooting (37.9 FG percentage). Patrick Swilling (9.2 pg) had a game-high 19 points against Florida State and has been solid off the bench.
Tulsa will struggle to find an answer for McCrea on the inside but with the superior backcourt, especially with Oldham out, the Golden Hurricane should be able to overcome that.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulsa 68, Buffalo 62
01/02 10:36:22 ET