The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alumni Arena (6,100) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Manhattan 6-4, Buffalo 7-4. Away Record: Manhattan 4-10, Buffalo 4-8. Neutral Record: Manhattan 0-2, Buffalo 0-3. Conference Record: Manhattan 8-8, Buffalo 6-6. Series Record: Buffalo leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Empire State programs get together in a BracketBuster showdown, as the Manhattan Jaspers head upstate to take on the Buffalo Bulls at Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Steve Masiello's Jaspers are coming off a hard-fought 60-56 setback to Niagara last weekend, but the team is playing some of its best basketball of the season as the team had strung together four straight wins prior to the loss to the Purple Eagles. Despite a less than impressive 10-16 overall mark, the Jaspers have improved to .500 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at 8-8 with their recent surge.
Reggie Witherspoon's Bulls are in a similar situation in Mid-American Conference play. Buffalo comes into this contest with a three-game win streak in tow after winning at Miami-Ohio (79-71) last time out. With the victory over the RedHawks, Buffalo is 11-15 on the year, but a much better 6-6 in conference play.
This marks the third meeting all-time between these two teams. Buffalo has won both prior meetings, with the last one coming in 1999, a 75-71 Bulls' victory at home.
Four Jaspers finished in double figures, but it wasn't enough to continue the team's winning ways, as Manhattan dropped a low-scoring affair to Niagara last time out. Donovan Kates led the way with 14 points in defeat. Rhamel Brown added 12 points, while Michael Alvarado and Emmy Andujar finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Andujar just missed a double-double with a a game- high nine rebounds.
Manhattan's lack of gaudy scoring outputs has been the norm this season, as the team is averaging just 59.0 ppg on the year, on a mediocre .414 shooting. Turnovers have plagued the team all year as well, as Manhattan is averaging just under 17 miscues per game. Things went south in early December with the loss of leading scorer George Beamon (16.8 ppg) to and ankle injury. His absence has left the Jaspers severely short-handed on the offensive end. Brown is the only significant scoring threat at this time, averaging 12.0 ppg, while leading the team in rebounding (7.2 rpg) as well.
Tony Watson II erupted for a career-high 31 points in Buffalo's win over Miami-Ohio last weekend. Watson was 10-of-14 from the floor in the game and knocked down 6-of-9 from 3-point range. Javon McCrea was instrumental in the win as well, pouring in 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Auraum Nuiriankh was a distant third in the scoring column for Buffalo, but still notched double digits with 11 points.
The Bulls are averaging a modest 65.3 ppg on the year, but have turned up the heat at the offensive end of late, posting at least 75 points in two straight games. McCrea is the leader at both ends of the floor, as the 6-foot-7 junior is shooting .550 from the field, while leading the team in scoring (17.1 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) and blocked shots (61). Watson complements with his perimeter shooting, converting .431 from behind the arc (56-of-130) and posting 10.4 ppg.
The Bulls get this game at home and will put the best player out on the floor in McCrea. Buffalo should keep its flawless record intact against Manhattan.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 70, Manhattan 61
02/23 10:49:28 ET