Syracuse men’s basketball opponent preview: What to know about Buffalo

first_imgSyracuse (9-1) returns to the Carrier Dome after its comeback win at Georgetown to face Buffalo (7-3) in the first of four-straight home games to close out December. The Bulls, winners of three straight, have faced just one ranked team in current-No. 20 Cincinnati.Here’s what you need to know about head coach Nate Oats’ team.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 27-5.Last time they played: The two teams haven’t met since Dec. 30, 2001, when SU won its final game before the beginning of Big East play, 83-62. Preston Shumpert paced the Orange with 11 points in each half to total a game-high 22. Hakim Warrick added 10 points and five rebounds.The Buffalo report: The Bulls have seven wins because they score. Their 82.1 points rank first in the Mid-American Conference and 55th in the country. They dropped 106, matching a school record, against Niagara.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt starts with junior guard CJ Massinburg, one of three MAC players to average 20 points per game. He’s made 65 shots on the year and nearly half of them (31) have been 3-pointers. And he’s pretty efficient, shooting just a tick over 50 percent from the field.After Massinburg, Buffalo has five more double-figure scorers to balance its offense. Sophomore guard Davonta Jordan is coming off an all-around effort himself, with 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals against Robert Morris. The Bulls will start four guards with 6-foot-10 center Montell McRae in the middle.This will be the second-toughest matchup for the Bulls thus far after that early loss to the Cincinnati. They have not yet played a team from a Power-five conference and that could show considering Buffalo’s 265th-ranked defense allows 76.5 points per game.How Syracuse beats Buffalo: Tyus Battle will likely get his 20 points and SU will likely win. If this game hinges on anything, it’s defense. In SU’s last home game, Colgate connected on a way-too-high 14 3-pointers and hung around for longer than the Orange would have liked. In Massinburg, Buffalo brings a hot, high-volume shooter with it. The first priority will be to contest his looks, but with a high-scoring and well-rounded team like the Bulls, SU will have to stay sound in the zone and prevent breakdowns, too.Stat to know: NineThe Bulls have a true scorer in Massinburg, but when junior forward Ikenna Smart notched 12 points in his season debut over the weekend, he became the ninth Buffalo player to score in double figures this season. Six of those players average at least ten points. Kenpom odds: Kenpom gives Syracuse an 83 percent chance to win. Player to watch: CJ Massinburg, Guard, No. 5One could argue Massinburg is the best player in the MAC. The junior posted five 20-point games in his first two seasons, but has six already this year to average an even 20 points per game. Credit much of that to his 3-point shooting percentage, which has jumped up from 33.1 percent a year ago to 47 percent now. And at 6-foot-3, he leads the team in rebounding at 7.8 boards per game. Comments Published on December 19, 2017 at 9:51 am Contact: jtbloss@syr.edu | @jtbloss Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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