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Big 4 Classic: Bona eyes sixth straight over Niagara

BIG 4 CLASSIC CAPSULE

St. Bonaventure (6-3) vs. Niagara (3-8)

1 p.m. Saturday, KeyBank Center

Bona update: With star point guard Jaylen Adams at the helm, Bona’s offense is fun to watch. The Bonnies average 82.9 ppg and hurt foes in transition. Bona was picked for fifth in the 14-team A-10. Adams, one of the 50 preseason candidates for the Wooden Award as the nation’s top player, is off to a flying start, averaging 22.8 ppg. Shooting guard Matt Mobley, a transfer from Central Connecticut State, is averaging 20.6 points and 7.2 rebounds. Forward Denzel Gregg, the Atlantic 10’s sixth man of the year last season, averages 11.6 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Niagara update: The record is bad but Niagara clearly is improved over recent seasons. The Purple Eagles upset defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Iona two weeks ago. Junior wing Matt Scott (17.7) is a crafty left-hander who fills the stat sheet. The key newcomer is point guard Kahlil Dukes (16.1 ppg), a transfer from Southern California. Sophomore forward Dominic Robb anchors the front line. Freshman Shane Gatling, a guard from Long Island, is off to a promising start.

Matchup: It’s a confidence-building opportunity for Bona’s front-line, which has a big edge in size and athleticism. Bona freshman Josh Ayeni, a late summer recruit, has made a surprisingly quick transition to the starting lineup. He looks like a steal. Big freshman center Amadi Ikpeze (Amherst) was supposed to be a long-range project but has looked more ready than advertised.

Uniforms: Bona will wear brown throwbacks from its 1977 NIT championship season. Niagara will wear white uniforms with purple and gold trim from 1978-82.

Series: Bona leads, 87-69, and has won five straight. Last year’s score was 82-68.

Tickets: $25 for the double-header.

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