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Big Four Classic - NCAA Basketball Buffalo Bulls vs Canisius Golden Griffins

Game 4: UB at GCU
Date - November 29th, 2014 Record: 2-2,0-0
Time - 4:15 PM
League: Western Athletic Conference
Venue - First Niagara Center RPI - 157

Aside from having a snow storm force Montana State to postpone their trip to Buffalo this season has went as well as even an optimistic fan could have expected.  The Bulls led #1 Kentucky for most of the game and got by the weak and middling teams on their early schedule.

What's up next for Buffalo is the Big Four Classic. The reboot of this event will pit Saint Bonaventure against Niagara and Buffalo against the Canisius Golden Griffins.

Buffalo comes into to this game off a blowout victory over Grand Canyon University and the Griffs are trying to get over a loss to Cornell.

Buffalo surged away with an 18-6 run late in the first half sparked by three layups from Justin Moss that gave UB an 18 point lead at the half. Grand Canyon chipped away at the UB lead until they were within 10 at the midway mark of the second half, but the Bulls reeled off 11 straight points for their largest lead of the night.

Against GCU the Bulls shot 51.9 percent from the field, with Jarryn Skeete chipping in 14 points. Moss went 9 of 14 from the floor and grabbed nine rebounds. Evans hit four 3-pointers, dished out seven assists and hauled in six boards.

Against the Big Red Canisius took a 32-32 tie into halftime but they let Cornell open the second frame with a 10-2 run. Canisius pulled within four late, but Cornell hit 6 of its last 8 free throws to seal it. The killer for Canisius was their 19-of-57 shooting (33.3 percent).

This is the second straight year the Bulls and Griffs will play their yearly match at the First Niagara Center. Last season UB had Canisius over a barrel. The Bulls were up by 11 points early in the second half, and really the game seemed to be even more of a blowout that the score indicated.

Buffalo's shooting cooled off and Canisius started to crawl back into the game. Once UB lost the momentum they were unable to stop the bleeding and 10 minutes later the Bulls surrendered their lead, for good.

To make things worse for UB the Bulls failed to score a point over the last four minutes. The game did end up a blowout; UB was just on the wrong side.

So can UB kick of their 2014 Big 4 series with a win against the Griffs?

Players to Watch
Lamonte Bearden

One of Bobby Hurley's first recruits, UB freshman Lamonte Bearden won back-to-back Wisconsin state titles at Germantown High School, finishing with a record of 54-2 in his two years of varsity. He is considered to have been the fourth-best player in the state of Wisconsin and the 28th best point guard nationally by ESPN.

This season Bearden is playing an average of 25 minutes a game, scoring eight points in each contest. He is shooting 87% from the free throw line and 39% from the floor. To top it off Bearden has three rebounds and three assists per game.

Zach Lewis

So far the 2013-14 MAAC All Rookie and 2014-2015 Preseason All Big-4 first teamer is living up to his billing. Through four games this season Lewis is averaging 13.56 points per game, up four points from his already-excellent freshman year. Last season he missed just two games with a quad injury but has been in every other Griffs game of his career. He averaged 28.5 minutes per game last season, that was bolstered by 46 minutes in his first career start against Rider.

He's not shooting too well this season but when he is on, as he was against Lehigh, he can dominate a game.