The win improves the Bulls to 9-8 on the season and 2-2 in MAC play. CMU dropped to identical marks.
Buffalo led for nearly the entire game as it opened the contest on a 10-3 run over the first three minutes. An 11-0 Central Michigan run gave . . .
CMU pulled back within four, but a 10-3 UB run gave the Bulls their largest lead of the first half at 30-19. As the half was coming to a close, freshman Nick Perkins ran down an offensive rebound and made a behind-the-back pass to Blake Hamilton, who then found Skeete for a three, giving UB a 33-23 lead at the break.
The Chippewas cut into the UB lead as they trailed just 40-36 with 14:32 left, but the Bulls answered on an 8-0 run, which included back-to-back triples from Rakicevic and Skeete, giving UB a 48-36 advantage.
Central Michigan continued to fight back and pulled within two at 54-52 with 5:44 left, but a pair of Willie Conner free throws and a Hamilton three ignited a 13-0 run over the next four minutes. That sealed the game as CMU got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
"I thought CJ gave us really good minutes defensively in Bearden's absence and we might have to go ahead and play Skeete at the point more, because he was great today with 12 assists and only two turnovers," said head coach Nate Oats.
"This win starts with our defense. We still turned the ball over way too many times, but the fact that we played so hard on the defensive end kind of negated that."
Skeete finished with his second career double-double and his first since his freshman season with 13 points and a career-high 12 assists. The 12 assists are tied for 10th most in a single game in school history and the most by a UB player since John Boyer had 12 assists on November 21, 2009 against Towson. Skeete also had four rebounds and just two turnovers.
Hamilton finished the night with 14 points and nine rebounds, just missing his second straight double-double. He went 3-for-5 from three point range and also added three assists. Conner added 13 points and four boards.
Redshirt freshman Ikenna Smart tied his career high with nine points, while also adding seven rebounds and a career-high three blocked shots. Freshman CJ Massinburg, who started in the place of Bearden, finished with eight points and six rebounds.
Both Rakicevic and Perkins each finished with eight points off the bench. Perkins added six rebounds.
In conference games only, Central Michigan was leading the MAC in scoring as the Chippewas were averaging 83.7 points per game. The UB defense held CMU to 36.4 percent from the field and just 25.9 percent from three-point range. It was just the third time this season the CMU has been held to 61 points or fewer and the first time since late November.
Ratyshawn Simmons led Central Michigan with 14 points. Joining him in double figures were Chris Fowler and Josh Kozinski – both with 12 points. John Simons added eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Bulls will go back on the road for their next two games, beginning on Tuesday night at Miami (7 p.m. ET). Central Michigan is at Northern Illinois (Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET).
Courtesy of UB Athletics/MRO Edit)