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Big 4: UB going for fifth straight victory Friday; Niagara, Canisius also play

The University at Buffalo Bulls are searching for their fifth straight win when they take on Kent State at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Alumni Arena (CBSSN). Buffalo is currently on a season-long four-game winning streak after a 90-79 win over Western Michigan earlier this week.

UB has won both of its games against Mid-American Conference East opponents this year.

Kent State is in the midst of a three-game losing streak after falling to Northern Illinois on Tuesday night.

Bulls head coach Jim Whitesell recorded his 400th career win on Tuesday and became the fifth head coach in UB history to have 13 wins in his first season.

Friday’s game against Kent State will have extra meaning for Whitesell and his staff.

Both the Buffalo and Kent State coaching staffs will be participating in the NABC Suits and Sneakers event. The UB staff will be wearing sneakers in memory of Sean Whitesell, Jim’s brother, who passed away from brain cancer in 2015.

Leading the Bulls on the court will be their starting five of Antwain Johnson, Davonta Jordan, Jayvon Graves, Jeenathan Williams, and Josh Mballa. Buffalo has started the same group for all 19 games this season and is one of three teams in the nation to have started the same five for every game.

They are the only team in the country whose entire starting lineup averages double figures in scoring.

Both Niagara and Canisius will play Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games Friday.

The Niagara men will play at the Manhattan Jaspers at 7 p.m. while Canisius will play at Iona at 7 p.m.

Niagara currently shares a conference-best 4-2 record with Manhattan, Monmouth, and Quinnipiac through the first six games of league play.

The Purple Eagles are on a three-game win streak with victories at Iona and at home against Rider and Siena, under first-year head coach Greg Paulus.

Niagara and Manhattan met earlier this season where the Jaspers edged the Purple Eagles 67-62 on Jan. 5 at the Gallagher Center.

Nine of the last 10 meetings between the teams have been decided by 10 points or less.

Last time out, Niagara was led on the court by Greg Kuakumensah with 17 points on 8 of 11 shooting in just the second half while Raheem Solomon scored 16 with six rebounds.

Niagara led for just 44 seconds in the win over Siena.

Canisius has won three-straight league games after dropping the first four to Siena, Manhattan, Fairfield, and Monmouth.
Since, they rebounded with wins over Saint Peter’s, Siena and Rider.

Malik Johnson is the reigning MAAC player of the week after averaging 21.0 points, 8.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game against Siena and Rider. It is the second time this season he has won the award.

Iona went 1-1 last weekend with a win over Fairfield and loss to Marist. They are 11th in the MAAC so far.

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