Sat, 15 Dec 2018
44
Albany

Unbeaten and No. 17 Buffalo returned to upstate New York this week as a recently christened Goliath, having won the Goliath bracket in the Belfast Hall of Fame Classic in Northern Ireland last weekend.

Next up, a true David.

The Bulls, who are 7-0 for the first time since 1930-31, will play host Wednesday to Division II Le Moyne College, which is located in Syracuse, 150 miles due east via I-90.

The programs may be farther apart than that in terms of national prominence, but that does not mean the slingshot cannot occasionally find its target.

The Dolphins posted perhaps the biggest victory in school history with an 82-79 victory over cross-town rival Syracuse on Nov. 2, 2009, and they beat Division I Siena two years ago.

Buffalo, who entereone of 11 unbeatens in Division I, will provide a similar challenge.

The Bulls moved up another four spots in the AP Top 25 this week, their third straight week in the polls, after beating then-undefeated San Francisco 85-81 in the final of the Belfast Classic on Saturday following a 96-77 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee the day before.

Buffalo is ranked even higher, at No. 13, in the NCAA's new NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) ratings, a metric that is designed to replace the RPI and provide more accurate guidance in the selection process for the NCAA Tournament.

"I think we have a good chance to be really good," coach Nate Oats said in a television interview after the game against San Francisco.

"We haven't been shooting as well as we could or as we were last year. It's hard to say how good, but if we can make shots and we can keep winning, we have a chance to be better than we were last year."

The Bulls, who were 27-8 last season and beat Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 13 seed, are led by seniors CJ Massinburg, two-time Mid-American Sixth Man of the Year Nick Perkins and Jeremy Harris.

Perkins scored a game-high 22 points against the Dons, and Massinburg and Harris had 15 points apiece. Harris hit a layup and Massinburg made five of six free throws in the final half-minute after the Dons closed within two points.

"That was a really good win for us," Oats said. "To get a win like that on a neutral floor, come March that will probably be a Quad 1 win for us."

Massinburg, a senior, is averaging 18.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, and he has made 23 of 45 3-point attempts.

Perkins, a 6-foot-8 senior, was named the tournament's most valuable player after finishing the two games in Northern Ireland with 42 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. Harris, a senior guard, was also named to the all-tournament team after totaling 36 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Le Moyne, coached by Patrick Beilein, has won four of its last six games and already has won three Northeast 10 Conference games to remain in the thick of the Southwest Division race.

The Dolphins' signature victory was a 102-99 win in triple overtime over the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, when leading scorer Kobi Nwandu scored 26 points and Tom Brown had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

"I think that win will help us grow," Beilein, the son of Michigan coach John Beilein, told the school website.

"As we continue to learn, the chemistry is starting to come together offensively and defensively."

Nwandu, a 6-6 junior, is averaging 18.3 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Similar to the elder Beilein's teams, the Dolphins are comfortable on the perimeter. They made 73 3-pointers while shooting 33 percent from distance, and their of their top five scorers have made at least 11 3-pointers. The other has made nine.

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