Gameday: Canisius at UB, 2 p.m.

By Nick Veronica

Canisius will make the 6 1/2-mile trip to UB Saturday afternoon for a 2 p.m. tipoff at Alumni Arena.

Canisius Golden Griffins: 2-2 overall, 0-1 road. Streak: L1. KenPom rank: 158. RPI: 241.

University at Buffalo, the State University of New York Bulls: 3-2 overall, 2-2 vs. Division I teams, 0-0 home. Streak: W2. KenPom rank: 150. RPI: 166.

Vegas line: UB -1.5, over/under 153.5.

What’s at stake: Local bragging rights are always on the line when Big 4 teams meet, and this game is especially important for Canisius in that regard. The Griffs are coming off a four-point home loss to St. Bonaventure, so a loss Saturday would mean they’d have to sweep Niagara just to go .500 against local opponents. UB hosts St. Bonaventure on Wednesday and doesn’t play Niagara, so this appears to be the more winnable of its Big 4 games this season.

Series history: Canisius leads the all-time series, 31-16, but UB won seven of the last 10.

Canisius players to watch: Start with Malcolm McMillan, the point guard who’s fifth nationally in scoring at 25.5 points per game (it would take a 37-point game would spring him to first). Jamal Reynolds is averaging 9.8 rebounds per game, good for 49th in the country, and his 23 offensive rebounds rank 10th. Junior Phil Valenti scored 11 points in both of his first two games against UB.

UB players to watch: The Bulls have received very balanced scoring through five games, with Lamonte Bearden, Rodell Wigginton, Blake Hamilton and Willie Conner all averaging double-figures. Bearden leads the team at 13.0 ppg, and he’ll look to put up another strong game against the Griffs – he had his coming out party last year at First Niagara Center against Canisius, scoring a game-high 23 points.

Home opener, of sorts: UB hosted Division III Pitt-Bradford two weeks ago, but Saturday is Nate Oats’ first true home game against real competition. It’ll be nice for the Bulls to return home following four games in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic, and a good crowd should be on hand to welcome Oats, the first-year coach who’s been dealing with his wife’s cancer diagnosis.

Saturday’s game is also UB’s first basketball game since Allen Greene was named athletic director, following Danny White’s departure. Just don’t lobby Greene to remove UB’s “New York Bulls Initiative” – that’s not up to him.

Potpourri: I missed the Canisius-Bona game, but it looks like Jim Baron had some interesting things to say in his press conference:

How to follow the game: Tickets are available at the UB box office; streaming is available via ESPN3; tweets are available via my feed and probably most of the Big 4 basketball Twitter list (are you a writer who needs to be added? DM me); and immediate reactions will be posted here shortly after the final buzzer.


Postgame video: UB 80, Drexel 70

By Nick Veronica

UB players Lamonte Bearden, Jarryn Skeete, Shannon Evans

The players were pretty loose after the win. Skeete was more worried about getting Rodell Wigginton’s alley-oop on SportsCenter. Bearden and Evans had eight assists. Skeete had 14 points.

UB coach Bobby Hurley

Hurley enjoyed having all three guards contribute in various ways and liked how his team defended Drexel’s Damion Lee. He also said Xavier Ford is fully cleared following his concussion.

Drexel coach Bruiser Flint did not meet with the media.

Postgame video: UB 72, Canisius 57 — Big 4 Doubleheader

By Nick Veronica

UB: Bobby Hurley, Lamonte Bearden, Rodell Wigginton

UB coach Bobby Hurley liked the setup of this year’s doubleheader more than last year’s version, which didn’t include St. Bonaventure. Lamonte Bearden preached taking what the defense gives him … which was a lot on a night he scored a career-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting.

Canisius: Jim Baron, Zach Lewis, Phil Valenti

Jim Baron gave the standard “UB’s a good team” but acknowledged his team needs to get better. Zach Lewis talked about his volume of shots, which he said is him trying to be aggressive while he works to find his groove.

Immediate reactions: UB 72, Canisius 57 — Big 4 Doubleheader 11/29/14

Canisius 19 38 — 57
Buffalo 34 38 — 72

By Nick Veronica

How it happened: Canisius couldn’t hit a shot in the first half and had no answer for UB in the paint as the Bulls led by 15 at halftime, 34-19, and coasted to a low-stress victory. Justin Moss dominated for 18 points and 12 rebounds while Lamonte Bearden led all players with 21 points. Canisius never led.

What it means: The loss was the 399th of Jim Baron’s career, putting him in sole possession of 10th place on the all-time losses list for college basketball coaches. That’s more indicative of a coach who’s been around a long time than a truly bad coach, as Baron’s overall record is 432-399, and coaches who only lose don’t last until 399 losses. Former Canisius coach Nick Macarchuk is tied for fifth on that list with 428 losses.

It was Jim Baron’s first loss against UB since coming to Canisius. UB improves to 4-1, with its only loss coming against No. 1 Kentucky. The Griffs go to 2-3 after opening the year with victories over Vermont and Lehigh.

[Postgame video: UB 72, Canisius 57]

It was over when: Pick your spot. UB led by 15 at halftime and led by as many as 20 points at 54-34 with 10:27 remaining. Canisius never threatened.

Sorry, fans: Empty seats were plentiful in the First Niagara Center, and those who came (announced attendance was 7,191) saw two blowouts. St. Bonaventure and UB both won by 15. Better luck next time.

Game ball: Moss had the best stats of the night, but Bearden was very impressive for a freshman point guard and picks up the game ball. He finished with 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting, including 2 of 3 from behind the arc, and was especially good in comparison to Canisius’ freshman point guard, Jan Grzelinski, who played only six minutes and didn’t attempt a shot.

Canisius player of the game: Nobody. Josiah Heath had a good line with eight points and six rebounds but didn’t make enough of an impact defending UB’s bigs. Zach Lewis led the team with 14 points but is still forcing far too many shots, going 4 for 14 today.

Next: Both teams are back in action Dec. 3. UB is at St. Bonaventure and Canisius opens MAAC play at Saint Peter’s.