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5:30 PM PT6:30 PM MT7:30 PM CT8:30 PM ET1:30 PM GMT9:30 PM 北京时间6:30 PM MST8:30 PM EST, Dec 21, 2018
Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin  Attendance: 17,567

No. 14 Buffalo looks to remain undefeated at Marquette

MILWAUKEE -- It's still December but the Buffalo Bulls still have sights set on March.

Head coach Nate Oats brings his 14th-ranked and undefeated squad to Milwaukee Friday night for a non-conference matchup against Marquette; a matchup Oats thinks all but seals a potential at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulls beat No. 13 West Virginia on the road in their second game of the season and are fresh off an impressive victory earlier this week at Syracuse. Now they'll set their sights on a Golden Eagles' squad that's ranked 20th in the nation.

"We've got to take care of business in conference, and our conference is much better this year than it's been," Oats said. "But yeah, I think this win is huge in March. We played at West Virginia, at Syracuse, at Marquette, we play three teams that are either currently ranked in the top 25 or in preseason were ranked in the top 25. If you win two out of three, what else do you want us to do?"

The game will mark a homecoming of sorts for Oats, who grew up an hour west of Milwaukee in Watertown, Wis., where he began his coaching career as an assistant at Maranatha Baptist College before moving on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

After that, Oats spent 10 years as a high school coach in Detroit before joining the Buffalo staff as an assistant in 2013. He took over for the 2015-16 season and led the program to MAC titles in 2016 and 2017.

"Obviously, I think he's done a great job," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said Thursday. "(Oats is) continuing the trajectory that (former Buffalo coach) Bobby (Hurley) started. And obviously I have a lot of respect for how he coaches his team."

Wojciechowski has emphasized protecting the basketball in practice this week after committing 22 turnovers in a victory over North Dakota on Tuesday. For the season, the Golden Eagles are averaging 15 per game and Wojciechowski would like to see that number drop with Big East Conference play looming right around the corner.

"We've gotten a number of turnovers, quite frankly, through offensive fouls," Wojciechowski said. "We have to limit those and then we just have to be stronger with the ball. We've showed at times that we can do that. We just have to be more consistent with it.

"We have so many areas we can get better a but offensively, taking care of the ball is a real point of emphasis for our program."

A victory over the Bulls would Marquette's third non-conference victory over a ranked opponent in four tries this season. The Golden Eagles have already beaten Kansas State and Wisconsin, both ranked No. 12 at the time, while falling to then No. 2-Kansas.

"Buffalo is an outstanding team," MU coach Steve Wojciechowski said Thursday. "We want our team to be challenged, so we can get a realistic picture of where we are at before we head into the Big East."

Updated December 20, 2018

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