For the first time in five seasons, Army’s men’s basketball team is off to a 3-0 start.
The Black Knights pulled off a surprising 78-74 win over Buffalo on Saturday behind 19 points and 10 rebounds from junior guard Josh Caldwell. Alex King also chipped in 16 points, eight boards and four assists for the Black Knights.
Army’s win over Buffalo is notable considering the Bulls have regularly appeared in the NCAA tournament recently, making the trip to the big dance four times since 2015. Buffalo won 20 games last season while Army was 15-15.
“I could not be happier and more impressed by our guys and the toughness and resiliency they showed today,” Army head coach Jimmy Allen said in a postgame statement. “Buffalo is a terrific basketball program. They won 20 games last season and were picked near the top of the MAC this year, so for us to play like we did today in our third game in four days, I am super excited for our team and the guys are pumped.”
The Black Knights shot well against Buffalo at Mohegan Sun Arena, knocking down 50.8% of their shots from the floor. Army also racked up 18 assists and outscored Buffalo 24-11 on fast breaks.
Defensively, Army held Buffalo to 27% shooting from three-point land. In addition to his scoring and rebounding totals, Caldwell — a 6-foot-2 native of Columbia, S.C. — notched five steals.
“Josh has consistently been our best player throughout the fall,” Allen said. “He plays so hard and that always impacts the basketball game. Sometimes you look at the statistics and you don’t always see high numbers, but if you look at the plus-minus, his team is always winning. I can’t say enough about the player he is.”
In Allen’s fifth season at the helm, Army began its season by dominating Division III Merchant Marine 93-32. In their next game, the Black Knights beat down Central Connecticut, 79-57. Lonnie Grayson had 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists in that game.
Through its first three games, Army is averaging 10.3 made three’s and 22.7 assists per-game. The Black Knights have shared the ball and shot it well.
But on Tuesday, Army will face its toughest test yet, taking on the Florida Gators in “Bubbleville.”
The Black Knights’ haven’t played the Gators since the 1971-72 season. The game will be the first of the season for Florida, which went 19-12 last season and 11-7 in SEC play. The Gators have had games vs. UMass Lowell, Virginia and Oklahoma canceled this season.
Florida hasn’t played a team from the Patriot League since 2015, when it beat Navy at the Veteran’s Classic in Annapolis.
The game will tip-off at 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPN2 on Wednesday.
If we’re using KenPom as an indicator, Army doesn’t have a chance against Florida; it’s the 236th best team in the nation taking on the 24th.
Still, crazier things have happened. After all, it’s 2020. Everything is on the table.