The win was UB's fifth straight in the all-time series and third straight win at Kent State. The Bulls, who improved to 8-7 on the year and 1-1 in MAC play, got a pair of 20-point games from sophomore Lamonte Bearden and junior Willie Conner.
UB opened the contest on a 13-2 run as the Bulls hit their first four shots and seven of their first nine from the field. Buffalo took its . . .
A three-pointer from Blake Hamilton to open the second half put the Bulls back ahead, and they never trailed over the final 20 minutes of action. UB began the second half on a 14-4 burst as it took a 48-38 lead with 14:42 left. Bearden scored the final five points in the run.
The Bulls continued to lead by eight with 3:57 left when Kent State scored four straight points to pull within four with 2:59 left. It remained just a four-point game with 1:37 left when Bearden hit a pair of free throws to increase the lead back to six. After a big block from Ikenna Smart, UB hit three free throws to go up by nine. Two more Conner free throws at the end sealed the victory.
"I thought this was one of those road games where you just grind it out on the defensive side of the ball," said head coach Nate Oats. "They have one of the best post players in the league in Jimmy Hall and we were able to hold him to two points in the second half. I thought we showed a lot of grit. It is hard to win close road games and our guys played with a lot of heart down the stretch."
Conner led the Bulls with 22 points as he went 5-of-6 from the field and 10-of-11 from the free throw line. The 10 made free throws were a career-high. Bearden had 21 points, eight assists and five steals as he was 7-of-8 from the field.
Senior Rodell Wigginton added seven points and a game-high eight rebounds off the bench, while adding two blocked shots. Smart, Skeete and Hamilton each finished with six points. Skeete added six rebounds and a pair of assists. Smart also had six rebounds despite being limited in the first half due to foul trouble.
As a team, the Bulls shot 52.2% from the field, their second highest total of the year. UB has now shot over 50% from the field in three of its last four games. The Bulls also shot 47.1% from three-point range and over 74% from the free throw line.
Xavier Pollard paced Kent State with 21 points, while Hall also reached double figures with 10 points and contributed a team-high seven rebounds.
The Bulls continue their two-game road trip on Tuesday night at Eastern Michigan. Tipoff is set for 7:00 pm. ET. Kent State hosts Miami Tuesday (7 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of UB Athletics/MRO Edit)