Bulls Hope to Ace the Test in Three-Game Marathon Weekend
EVANSVILLE, IN - The Buffalo men's basketball team will have three chances to earn its first win of the season, starting Thursday night with a 8 pm (EST) game against Evansville in the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The team will then face Western Illinois on Friday at 6 pm and Yale on Saturday at 6 pm. Buffalo is coming off a 95-68 loss at Florida State on Monday night.
Against the Seminoles, Buffalo was led by Javon McCrea and Tony Watson who each scored 17 points, and Xavier Ford, who had a career high of 16 points. Evansville is 0-1 and coming off a 58-49 loss at Notre Dame on Saturday. The Purple Aces are led by Colt Ryan, who scored 15 points in the team's opener against the Fighting Irish. It isn't a one-man show, though, as the team also has a talented post presence in sophomore Ryan Sawvell. The 6-8 forward had 10 points and 11 rebounds against Notre Dame.
Evansville returns three starters and 11 letterwinners. That group comprises 69 percent of its scoring, 78 percent of its rebounding, 68 percent of the squad's assists and over 70 percent of the minutes from 2011-12's team, which finished third in the prestigious Missouri Valley Conference.
The all-time series is tied, 2-2. Evansville won the last meeting, 64-49, at Evansville on Nov. 22, 2008. The road team has never won in the series, and have generally been subject to blowouts, with the Bulls losing by more than 20 points per game in the two losses and the Aces losing by 12 points in its two losses at UB. The Bulls are 5-9 all time against opponents from the Missouri Valley Conference. Under Reggie Witherspoon the Bulls are 3-4 against MVC opponents. The Bulls beat Indiana State twice and Evansville once under Witherspoon.
Friday's opponent Western Illinois finished last season with an 18-15 record and enters the weekend tournament with a 1-1 record. After the Leathernecks beat Wabash 71-39 on Saturday, the team lost at SIU-Edwardsville 62-50 on Wednesday night. The loss came thanks in part to 19 turnovers committed by the team, compared to just eight turnovers forced. Terrell Parks, who averaged 11.9 PPG last year, leads WIU in points and rebounds through two games (with 16.5 and 7.5, respectively).
Last season, Western Illinois made the Summit League Championship game where they fell to No. 2 seed South Dakota State 52-50 in overtime. It faced Oregon State in the opening round of the CBI. The Bulls are 6-5 against WIU, but the last meeting came back in 1998 when the two teams were members of the now-defunct Mid-Continent Conference. Buffalo is 13-12 all time against Summit League opponents.
The final opponent of the tournament, Yale, is coming off of a 19-10 mark in 2011-12 while opening this year up with a pair of losses. The Bulldogs fell in overtime to Sacred Heart 85-82 in the opener before being shut down offensively in a 61-35 defeat at St. Joseph's on Monday in its Coaches vs. Cancer opening game. Austin Morgan sits atop the Bulldogs' leader board, averaging 16 points in the first two games, including 28 points against Sacred Heart.
This will be the sixth meeting between the two programs, but the first since 1931. Yale leads the all-time series 4-1, and the Bulls have posted an all-time record of 18-36 against Ivy League schools.
Evansville will be offering video streaming coverage of every Coaches vs. Cancer Classic game played at the Ford Center this weekend. Fans who are interested can purchase either a single-day (pay-per-view) pass for $6.95, or a weekly pass for $9.95 to view the games. All three games will also be carried on 1230 WECK, with Josh Whetzel on the call.