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Bonnies Renew Rivalry with Buffalo

Photo by Dan Nelligan

The Bonnies (4-2) travel to Buffalo (1-6) to take on the Bulls with tipoff scheduled for 2:00 p.m. St. Bonaventure has lost three of the last four games against UB with the lone win coming December 4, 2021, in the Reilly Center. The Bonnies are 11-5 all-time against Buffalo while head coach Mark Schmidt has an 8-4 mark against the Bulls. Buffalo won last season’s meeting 83-66 on their home court. Here is everything you need to know for today’s game.

The Bonnies

The transfers continue to lead the Bonnies offensively. Charles Pride leads the team in scoring (12.8 PPG) while Mika Adams-Woods ranks second just 0.1 points behind him (12.7 PPG). Chad Venning is the only other player averaging double figures. The center averages 11.3 PPG in 21.3 minutes per contest. The other starters, Daryl Banks III and Assa Essamvous, are averaging 9.0 and 8.0 points per game, respectively.

Pride also continues to lead the Bonnies in rebounding, averaging a team-high 6.8 boards per game. Barry Evans has continued his breakout season as he has proven valuable on the glass. Evans averages 5.0 rebounds per game while Assa has grabbed 4.5 boards per game.

Evans has not been the only impact bench player for St. Bonaventure. Noel Brown continues to give Schmidt fantastic minutes as the Bonnies have their first legitimate backup big man in recent memory. Brown is averaging 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds over 16.7 minutes per game. Moses Flowers has also played important minutes for the 17th year head coach along with Kyrell Luc, who missed three games earlier this season but returned to the lineup last time out.

The offense finally broke out last Saturday as the Bonnies hung 90 on Miami (OH) in a 30-point victory. St. Bonaventure shot 55.4% from the field along with going 11/25 (44.0%) from beyond the arc and 7-8 from the free throw line. Over their first six games, Bona's is shooting 44.2% from the field, 30.6% (45/147) from long distance and 79.1% (72/91) from the charity stripe. That 79.1% mark ranks the Bonnies 17th nationally in free throw percentage.

Projected Starting Five: Assa, Adams-Woods, Banks, Pride, Venning

The Opponent

It is no secret the Bulls are having a down year. Buffalo’s only win this season was an 89-83 victory over Division II Roberts Wesleyan University. UB has lost games to Fairleigh Dickenson University and the University of Louisiana by single digits and have lost to South Alabama, Hofstra, Iona and James Madison University by double digits.

Buffalo has been led this season by graduate student Sy Chatman. The 6-foot-8 forward averages a team-high 15.1 points per game along with grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game. Chatman also leads the team in minutes as he plays nearly 31 minutes per contest. Isaiah Adams and Jonnivius Smith are the only other Bulls to average double figures on the season. 6-foot-6 Adams averages 11.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, but has missed the last two games after starting four of the Bulls' first five. The 6-foot-9 Smith averages 10.0 points and a team-high 9.7 rebounds per game.

Both Shawn Fulcher and Kanye Jones will have an impact on this afternoon’s game as both players average at least 9.0 points per game. Freshman Ryan Sabol will likely be heard from as well. The 6-foot-3 guard leads head coach George Halcovage III’s team in threes made with 14 triples in 29 tries. Anquan Boldin Jr., another freshman, has appeared in all seven of UB’s games thus far.

Projected Starting Five: Chatman, Adams, Boldin Jr., Fulcher, Smith

Last Season’s Matchup

Buffalo blew out the Bonnies in last season’s matchup. The 83-66 final was an accurate representation of how the game went on the campus of SUNY-Amherst. UB was led by Curtis Jones’ 32 and Zid Powell’s 23 points. Luckily for the Bonnies, Jones now plays for Iowa State and Powell now attends UTEP. Bonas was led by Assa with 18 points in last season's contest while Banks recorded 16.

Nearly everything went wrong for Schmidt’s team 364 days ago. The Bonnies were 3/15 from beyond the arc and 9/19 (47.4%) from the free throw line. Chad Venning also failed to register a point in only 12 minutes of action due to fouling out of the game. Venning’s replacements of Max Amadasun, Anquan Hill and Anouar Mellouk combined for only 10 points in 35 minutes. Buffalo shot 85.7% (18/21) from the free throw line and 49.2% from the field in the matchup.

Players to Watch

Chad Venning – Venning continues to be an import piece for the Bonnies on both sides of the floor. While Brown has done an exceptional job in relief of Venning, the redshirt junior’s impact is noticeable when he is on the floor. Those 0 points in only 12 minutes last season will not happen again. If he can stay out of foul trouble early, the 6-foot-10 center could be in for a massive afternoon.

Jonnivius Smith – While he might be the third highest scorer on the team, Smith is nearly averaging a double-double. That does not happen by accident. The 6-foot-9 forward, along with Chatham, will be a handful for the defensive combination of Venning, Brown, Evans and Assa. Smith played the role of tertiary scorer in last season's meeting but still managed to notch 10 points and 6 rebounds on 5/8 shooting. He also blocked a pair of shots playing 29 of 40 minutes.

Prediction and Keys to the Game

While Buffalo may look big on paper, this team is not good. Out of 362 division one teams, the Bulls are ranked 334th in the Kenpom rankings. There are hypothetically only 28 teams in the nation worse than Buffalo. The ideal outcome for the Bonnies today would be a repeat of last weekend’s game against Miami (OH).

The key to this afternoon’s game for the Bonnies is to show they are the better side by getting up early and playing Mark Schmidt branded constricting defense. Additionally, if the Bonnies take away one of the three of Chatman, Adams and Smith, they should cruise to a road victory. St. Bonaventure gets the job done winning by 13-16 points against a far inferior opponent.


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