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St. Bonaventure visits Niagara in Big 4 clash

Niagara opens its men’s basketball season when it plays host to undermanned St. Bonaventure in a Big 4 game tonight at 7.

This is the 159th meeting between the rivals, who began playing each other in the 1920-21 season. The Bonnies lead the series 88-70, but Niagara is 51-35 at home.

St. Bonaventure (1-1) will be without senior forward Courtney Stockard for the third consecutive game. Stockard is recovering from an off-season knee procedure. Junior Melkisedek Moreaux is not expected to play as he recovers from a hyperextension to his knee and the status of senior forward LaDarien Griffin is uncertain. Griffin suffered a knee injury in the Bonnies’ opener against Bucknell.

Bona is coming off a 67-36 victory over Jackson State on Saturday. The young Bonnies had only eight healthy scholarship players for the game.

Junior guard Jalen Poyser is averaging 18 points over his first two games with St. Bonaventure.

Niagara is seeking consecutive season-opening wins for the first time since the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. The Purple Eagles beat Bona 77-75 in their opener last season.

Niagara is coming off a 19-14 season that included a bid to play in the CIT. Eight letter winners return, including senior captains Marvin Prochet, Dominic Robb, Chris Barton and Greg King. Junior James Towns is expected to start at point guard.

Prochet was selected to the Preseason All-MAAC third team.

UB looks to go 3-0

University at Buffalo, coming off a 99-94 upset win over No. 13 West Virginia, will look to win its third straight game to begin the season tonight at 7 when it plays at Southern Illinois (0-1) in Carbondale, Ill.

The Bulls (2-0) rallied to force overtime on a 3-pointer by CJ Massinburg and beat the Mountaineers as Massinburg scored 35 of his 43 points in the second half and overtime. In the process, he because the eighth college basketball player since the 2010-11 season to record at least 40 points and 14 rebounds in a game. He was the first to do it against a nationally ranked opponent.

Southern Illinois opened its season with a 71-59 loss at Kentucky. Aaron Cook led the way for the Salukis with 18 points. Kavion Pippen added 16 points.

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