Tipoff: 7 p.m.
Radio: 550 AM, 1230 AM, 102.9 FM.
Records: Niagara 13-9 (6-3 MAAC), Canisius 13-8 (7-1 MAAC).
Gameday: Tickets are sold out, the eighth time in the last nine years Canisius has filled the Koessler Athletic Center for the Niagara matchup.
History: This game will be the 182nd all-time meeting in the “Battle of the Bridge,” with Niagara holding a 99-82 lead in the series. Canisius has won seven of the last 10 meetings between the schools, but Niagara swept the two-game series last year for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.
View from the top: Canisius is No. 1 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings, sitting at 7-1 for the second time in program history and the first time since the 1996-1997 season. The Griffs are riding a four-game win streak, the longest active streak in the conference. Canisius most recently defeated Manhattan and Iona on a weekend road trip downstate.
Niagara is also riding a nice streak, winning four of its last five. The lone hiccup was a one-sided 104-85 loss at Fairfield, but the Purple Eagles bounced back Wednesday at the Gallagher Center with a 72-63 victory against Manhattan.
“We’re just going to try to carry that over to Saturday,” Niagara forward Matt Scott said after the victory against the Jaspers.
Heading to the line: Niagara is aggressive going to the hoop, leading the nation in free throw attempts (567) and free throws made (401). Scott is responsible for 337 of the attempts.
One-two punch: Niagara’s Kahlil Dukes and Scott are second and third in the MAAC in scoring, respectively, entering today’s matchup. The pair both average more than 20 points per game. Dukes tops the MAAC in multiple categories, leading the conference in free throw percentage (.898), in 3-point field goal percentage (.440), 3-pointers per game (3.0) and total 3-pointers made (66).
Weekly honors: Canisius guard Isaiah Reese was named the MAAC Player of the Week on Monday. He averaged 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.5 steals against Manhattan and Iona.
He’s scored 20 or more points in three straight and four of the Griffs’ last six games.
Run and gun: The Purple Eagles play a speedy game, but not at the expense of their ball handling. Niagara’s assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.1, only .2 worse than MAAC-leading Iona.
“Our guys that are here from last year ... they’ve all commented that they couldn’t believe how fast the game was going, especially the second game,” Canisius coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “They were out of breath. ... If you score a basket, they can take it down and go. They don’t need you to miss or turn it over.”
Canisius’ best weapon to combat Niagara’s speed is Reese, who leads the MAAC with 2.3 steals per game. He’s snagged nine steals in the Golden Griffins’ previous two games.