BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2011-12 on Wednesday night as the Bulls defeated the defending Ohio Valley Conference champions, Jacksonville State, 81-76, at Alumni Arena. The loss was the first of the season for the Gamecocks, who had entered the night 2-0.
The Bulls stormed out of the gates, opening the night on a 12-2 run as juniors CJ Massinburg and Montell McRae combined for 10 of the 12 points. UB continued to lead 21-14 when Jacksonville State went on a 7-0 run to take the 22-21 lead. The Gamecocks recorded their largest lead of the night at 26-23 with 4:12 left in the opening half, but Massinburg immediately answered with a three pointer, sparking an 8-0 Buffalo run. The Gamecocks retook a 32-31 lead, but a jumper from Massinburg with 36 seconds left sent UB in the break, up 33-32.
Buffalo led for the entire second half as the Bulls scored the first seven points to take a 40-32 lead. A pair of free throws from Massinburg gave the Bulls their largest lead of the night at 55-43 with 10:58 left and UB continued to lead by double figures with 5:48 remaining when Jacksonville State made one final push.
The Gamecocks pulled with 71-66 with 3:04 remaining, but the Bulls got a big a shot from sophomore Davonta Jordan, who hit a three with 2:05 left to give Buffalo the 74-66 lead. Jacksonville State again answered back, this time pulling within four at 75-71 with 37 seconds left, but the Gamecocks missed three straight free throws, which would have pulled them within one possession. The Bulls made the free ones count on their end though as they hit their final six free throws, getting a pair of makes from Dontay Caruthers, freshman James Reese, and Massinburg.
"That was a really good team that we beat tonight in Jacksonville State," said head coach Nate Oats. "They destroyed Richmond on the glass by 20 on Monday so for us to outrebound them by 11 was huge for us. We still need to do a better job figuring out ways to close games out, but I am really happy with the energy, the defense, and the toughness that we showed throughout the game."
Massinburg led the Bulls with 25 points as he went 8-of-17 from the floor and hit four three-pointers. He also added seven rebounds and five assists.
Massinburg was one of four players in double figures for the Bulls. Nick Perkins had 16 points, with 14 of those coming in the second half. Jordan added 11 points and five rebounds, while McRae had 10 points and six rebounds.
Caruthers scored nine points off the bench, while he also had three rebounds and four assists. Redshirt freshman Brock Bertram had three points, six rebounds, an assist and a block.
Reese scored the first two points of his college career with his free throws at the end, while Jeremy Harris had five points, five rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.
The Bulls shot 43.1% from the floor, including 50.0% in the second half. It was also UB's best performance from the free throw line as they shot 76.2% for the game and 81.3% in the second half. It was the second straight game that UB held a double-digit rebounding edge in.
After opening the season with two home victories, the Bulls will now head south for three games at the Cayman Islands Classic. UB will open the tournament on Monday night when they face Cincinnati, who is currently ranked 12th nationally in the latest AP Top 25 Poll. Tip off for that game will begin at 7:30 pm.