|No. 22 Buffalo looks to protect ranking against Dartmouth|
Buffalo gained national notoriety with its decisive victory over Arizona in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and the Bulls are still handling top-tier opponents.
The No. 22-ranked Bulls entered the AP poll for the first time in school history two weeks ago after an overtime road victory over West Virginia, another NCAA Tournament staple, and they moved up two places after finishing the trip with a victory at Southern Illinois on Nov. 12.
After a nine-day break for finals, Buffalo (3-0) is back to host long-range-happy Dartmouth at home Wednesday.
Dartmouth (3-1) has made 63 of 135 shots from 3-point range and is averaging 15.3 treys a game, the most for any team that has played at least three games, albeit against a group of opponents that includes two Division III schools.
"I couldn't be prouder of our guys on this road trip," Buffalo coach Nate Oats told reporters after the 62-53 victory over Southern Illinois, which has won 20 games in two of the last three seasons.
"We kind of out-toughed them a little bit. They're a really good team, but we got on the glass, created some second-chance points and manufactured some points to grind out a win."
The Bulls, who have made the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three seasons, are 3-0 for first time since 1986-87, when they were in Division III.
The idea, Oaks said, is not to let offcourt stuff create an obstruction.
So far, so good.
"I talked to our guys about being a high-character team," Oats said.
"We could be really immature and come in with a poor attitude. After we got all the accolades and everything, how are we going to come in and respond to it? I thought they responded pretty well."
After scoring 43 points in the 99-94 overtime victory at West Virginia, senior guard CJ Massinburg came down to earth against Southern Illinois, scoring seven points on 3-of-9 shooting in 34 minutes.
Massinburg, on pace to become the school's alltime leading scorer, made 12 of 22 field-goal attempts against the Mountaineers, including 9 of 15 from 3-point range. He also made 10 of 12 free-throw attempts.
"We've got confidence as a team," Massinburg told reporters.
"We have confidence in ourselves, our coaches and our players. But we try not to get caught up in the hype, because then you put added pressure on yourself that you really don't need."
Massinburg also is averaging 9.3 rebounds this season, while Jeremy Harris, Nick Perkins and Jayvon Graves are scoring in double figures.
Perkins, a two-time Sixth Man of the Year in the Mid-America Conference, also has 29 rebounds and four blocked shots while coming off the bench again this season.
Dartmouth has four players averaging in double figures, led by 6-foot-8 Adrease Jackson at 18.3 points and 8.0 rebounds a game. Even he is a factor from the 3-point line, having made 8 of 18.
Guards Brendan Barry (15.7 points per game), James Foye (12.7) and Ian Sistare (9.7) had combined to make 31 of 47 3-point attempts, and Barry is 18 of 25. Dartmouth made a school-record 22 threes in the season opener against Division III Newberry.
The Big Green's only loss was a 79-76 defeat at Davidson on Nov. 9, when the host Wildcats scored the final 11 points. Sistare had five threes in that game, and Barry and Foye had three apiece.