Buffalo (8-4) at Toledo (13-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 15, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Savage Arena (7,300) -- Toledo, Ohio Television: None. Home Record: Buffalo 7-1, Toledo 7-0. Away Record: Buffalo 1-2, Toledo 4-2. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-1, Toledo 2-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 2-0, Toledo 1-1. Series Record: Toledo leads, 11-8.
GAME NOTES: The Buffalo Bulls go in search of a fifth straight win on Wednesday, as they visit the Toledo Rockets in a Mid-American Conference clash at Savage Arena.
Wins against Northern Illinois (67-46) and Eastern Michigan (76-66) in the last two bouts not only extended Buffalo's winning streak to four games, but also gave them a 2-0 start in conference action. The Bulls are 8-4 overall, but just 1-2 on the road. They will return home this Saturday to host Kent State.
Toledo broke into the win column for the first time against MAC competition in its last contest, defeating Central Michigan, 86-71, in the first half of this two-game homestand. The Rockets are a perfect 7-0 at home and currently a sparkling 13-2 overall. However, an 87-76 loss at Western Michigan in the conference opener has them at 1-1 in league play. Toledo will visit Akron, which, like Buffalo, is also off to a 2-0 start in conference play, next.
Buffalo has absolutely owned Toledo in recent years, winning each of the last six meetings. However, the Rockets still lead the all-time series by an 11-8 margin.
Jarryn Skeete provided quite a spark off the bench for Buffalo against Eastern Michigan, nailing 4-of-7 shots from beyond the arc and tying for the game-high with 19 points in 27 minutes. The Bulls forced 17 turnovers in the contest, while committing only eight, to make up for a 39.7 percent overall shooting effort.
Expecting strong defensive showings is not unreasonable for head coach Bobby Hurley to have of his Bulls. Buffalo is limiting opponents to 66.8 ppg and 39.9 percent shooting, ranking among the top-100 teams in the country in both categories. However, the Bulls are also scraping the bottom of the MAC barrel in terms of their own shooting percentage (.421). Javon McCrea (16.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.0 bpg) is setting himself up to receive all-conference honors if he can keep up the torrid pace of the first 12 games. McCrea is among the top-three players in the conference in scoring and rebounding, as well as blocked shots. Joshua Freelove (11.8 ppg) is the only other double-digit scorer, while Jarod Oldham (7.8 ppg, 5.5 apg) is second in the league in assists.
Julius Brown (15 points, 12 assists) and J.D. Weatherspoon (14 points, 11 rebounds) each contributed double-doubles to lead six players in double figures in Toledo's win over Central Michigan. The Rockets shot 57.1 percent overall, including an 8-of-17 showing from beyond the arc, in the victory.
Led by Brown, who leads the MAC in assists, the Rockets have been performing extremely well on offense. They are first in the league in scoring (85 ppg), assists (15.7 apg) and field goal percentage (.490), ranking in the top-30 nationally in each category as well. Brown (13 ppg, 7.1 apg) has the keys to the offense, but Rian Pearson (15.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) is the primary scorer. Pearson went 7-of-10 from the floor to finish with 14 points against Central Michigan before fouling out. Providing additional depth are Justin Drummond (14.6 ppg), Weatherspoon (11.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Nathan Boothe (10.5 ppg).
It would be quite a feat for the defensive-minded Bulls to slow down the high- octane Rockets. With Brown and Pearson playing at home, the task will be even more difficult.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 78, Buffalo 70
01/15 10:35:25 ET