AKRON, OHIO – Buffalo scored the game’s first 11 points and led throughout on the way to an 87-65 win over Akron Tuesday night at Rhodes Arena.
It was the fourth consecutive win for UB, which is undefeated in three MAC outings and is 11-5 overall. The Zips, meanwhile, fell to 0-3 in MAC play and lost for the sixth time over their last seven contests.
Although Buffalo has . . .
With Western Michigan‘s loss at Toledo, UB is the only team in the conference at 3-0. Akron lost on its own court for the first time this season.
“I thought our defensively intensity was great.” Bulls head coach Nate Oats said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we came up big on the defensive end of the court.”
UB had five players in double figures led by Jeremy Harris and Nick Perkins -- each with 17 points. Harris went 7-of-10 from the field with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Perkins came off the bench and added four boards.
Freshmen Montrell Mc Rae and Jayvon Graves each added 11 and junior CJ Massinburg, the MAC’s leading scorer coming into this week’s action, netted 10.
“I thought our effort and attitude was atrocious, and I will take that responsibility.” Zips head man John Groce said. “We turned the basketball over. We were dominated on the backboard. You had to be hitting on all cylinders to beat a team like Buffalo.
Freshman Virshon Cotton led the Zips with a career high 23 points, going 12-of-15 from the free throw line. Junior Jimond Ivey added 16.
Similar to their victory on Saturday at Ball State, the Bulls took control of the game right from the start as they scored the game’s first 11-points. UA’s first points came at the 16:31 mark on two free throws by freshman Jayden Sales.
In fact, the Zips first seven points came from the charity stripe as they just could get anything else to fall. Buffalo’s swarming might have played a part in that, as well as nine turnovers over the opening 20 minutes. The miscues led to 12 points.
UA’s first two baskets came from freshman Mark Kostelac on a short jumper at the 7:23 mark at the other on a layup at 6:01. By that time, UB was well out in front and ended the opening half on a 7-3 spurt. That gave UB its largest lead of the half at 38-17.
Buffalo did not shoot the ball well in the first half, going 14-of-33 for 42 percent and just 1-of-16 from three-point range. However, UB controlled the boards 25-17 and committed just five turnovers.
It was a half the Zips would like to forget as they went just 3-of-23 from the floor, missing all nine shots from beyond the arc. The only saving grace for the Blue and Gold was going 11-of-16 from the foul line.
It was more of the same in the second half as the Bulls opened a 29-point lead within the first three minutes 49-20 on a three from the top of the key by Harris. The closest UA would get for the remainder of the game was 21 points 77-56 with 3:41 remaining on a pair of free throws by Sayles, who had nine points.
Both teams shot better in the second half, UA hit an even 50 percent from the floor (12-of-24) out-rebounded the Bulls 17-15, and went 6-of-11 from beyond the arc in the second period.
Buffalo went 19-of-34 from the floor (55.9%) and finished the contest just under 50 percent (33-of-67), winning the rebound battle 40-34.
When asked what can be taken out of a the game, Groce said “I thought our young guys played well -- they battled. I thought Cotton played the way he practiced and that was nice to see.”
Two of Akron’s key scorers struggled. Utomi who was leading the team at 18.1 points per game registered just one point, missing the three shots he took from the field in 20 minutes. Graduate player Malcom Duvivier, one of the top 3-point shoters in the MAC managed seven seven and was one-of-five from beyond the arc.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday. Buffalo returns home to face Miami, who defeated Kent State 80-69. Akron faces Bowling Green, who defeated Northern Illinois at home 66-57.