The Bulls return to Alumni Arena tonight after a hard earned 80-75 victory over Canisius in the season opener. The Bulls, lead by junior Nick Perkins had to come back late to beat the Golden Griffins. Canisius is not expected to be a strong contender in the MAAC so was this game a fluke or telling? To me it seems like a fluke. The Bulls did not shoot well (41% from the field, 29% from three) while the Griffins seemed to hit a lot of their shots from deep (38%). Overall, I wouldn’t put too much stock in to an early season game against a local team. Those are bound to be close due to the high stakes “battle for Buffalo” type feeling.
Now on to tonight’s game. Jacksonville State is coming in to this game off of a strong 94-61 game against A-10 Richmond. According to Kenpom, the Gamecocks are ranked 116, where the Bulls come in at 157. This will be a good early season test as I consider the Bulls a borderline top 100 team by seasons end. In the MAC non conference doesn’t always matter but this game will be a tough one to get the Bulls in to the swing of good competition. So what should we be watching for? Take a look.
Is Davonta Jordan going to keep up his strong play.
I will admit, I was not a member of the Jordan fan club. I wasn’t last year and I wasn’t coming in to this year. However, the way he played against Canisius made me consider a mental change. Jordan looked great for 95% of the game last Saturday. Besides a few late turnovers, he seemed in control and very capable of running the point while Wes Clark is ineligible. If he can continue to drive and dish, I think you will see the Bulls turn things around behind the arc and become a threat on all facets of offense.
Who steps up at center?
Yeah I know, my bold prediction was very inaccurate about Brock Bertram getting a double double. That being said, I’m curious of who will step up in the paint. I’m still very bought in to the Montell McRae hype train and I think he will be our guy in the paint. Especially while Ikenna Smart is out. I like Nick Perkins at the five when the Bulls go small, but I think McRae will eventually prove that he is the man inside.
The Bulls have the returning MAC DPOY in Dontay Caruthers, and I think he will continue to be a good defender. However, I felt like the Bulls let up too many easy buckets in the paint last game. The guards were active up top leading to some easy transition baskets but I felt like UB can be more aggressive inside. I’d love to see Nick Perkins establish himself (without drawing fouls) as well as McRae getting more physical. If they lock down the interior, I think the Bulls will be a very tough opponent every game.
With that all being said, I think we’re in for a fun game tonight. Jacksonville State was a NCAA tournament team in 2017 and could easily go back this year. This game starts a real testing stretch for Buffalo in which they will learn to play tough or get run out of the gym. I think UB comes away with a win tonight before escaping off to the Cayman Islands. I hope to see everyone there and as always, Go Bulls!