Niagara has won two of its last three games. The University at Buffalo has dropped two of its last three. Tonight at the Gallagher Center in Lewiston, Niagara will try to keep it going while the Bulls will try to regain their rhythm in their Big 4 clash (Radio 550 and 1520, 7 p.m).
The host Purple Eagles began the week Monday night with a 77-71 over Army at home. That was after they split a pair of weekend games in the Barclays Center Classic on their home court, defeating Alabama A&M and falling in a shootout with Texas-Arlington.
UB (3-2) won one of its three games in the Cayman Islands Classic in George Town, Cayman Islands. The Bulls were impressive in a close loss to Cincinnati and an overtime victory over Alabama-Birmingham, but they went through perhaps their worst performance of the season in the fifth-sixth place consolation game last Wednesday. Coach Nate Oats' team fell to South Dakota State, 94-80.
The Bulls trailed by 22 points, 46-24, after shooting only 26.5 percent (9 of 34) in the first half. Things were better in the final 20 minutes (21 of 38 for 55.3 percent) but the winning Jackrabbits hit 11 of 17 for 64 percent over the same stretch. UB made only 9 of 31 three-point attempts for 29.0 percent as opposed to South Dakota State's 10 of 21 for 47.6. The Jackrabbits dominated the rebounding, 37-28.
Each team won its Big 4 opener to start the regular season. Niagara upset St. Bonaventure (without star guard Jaylen Adams), 77-75, at the Reilly Center. UB triumphed over Canisius, 80-75 at Alumni Arena. The Bulls will play their final Big 4 game of the season on Saturday afternoon when the Bonnies visit for a 2 p.m. game.
No question where UB will have to focus its defensive attention tonight. Niagara guards Matt Scott (25.1) and Kahlil Dukes (20.0) are the highest scoring pair in the nation and rank first and second in scoring in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
St. Bonaventure's men (3-2) will be on the road against Siena (1-4) in their Franciscan Cup game at the Times Union Center in Albany (Radio 1450 AM, 95.7 FM, 7 p.m.). The Bonnies still are waiting for Adams to make his season's debut after he suffered a sprained left ankle in an exhibition game. Matt Mobley (21.8 ppg) is carrying a lot of the scoring load with Adams out. Welcome news was the 20 points from freshman wing Izaiah Brockington in the 89-79 loss to TCU in the Emerald Coast Classic last Saturday in Florida after a 63-61 upset of Maryland.
Siena's only win was at home over former Niagara coach Joe Mihalich's Hofstra team, 85-76, on Saturday. Siena starts three juniors and two sophomores. The Saints leading scorer is 6-5 guard Nico Clareth from Baltimore, Jaylen Adams' hometown. Siena forward Thomas Huerter is the older brother of Kevin Huerter, who face the Bonnies as a starter with Maryland last week. The Huerters are from Shenendehowa High in the Capital District area.
Canisius and St. Bonaventure women's teams have home games on Wednesday night's schedule.
Canisius (2-3) will face Oakland University of Michigan (2-3) at the Koessler Center at 7 p.m. The Bonnies (4-3), who won three in a row before losing at Navy, 86-48, in the championship game of the Middies' own tournament in Annapolis, Md., will face Delaware (3-3) at the Reilly Center at 7 p.m.
Canisius is coming off losses on the road to Cornell and Bucnkell.
The big development lately for Bona has been the play of former Western New York high school standout Mckenna Maycock, a junior from Randolph. Maycock is averaging 19.0 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 58.6 overall and 59.1 from three-point range in her last five games.