CLEVELAND, OH – The top-seeded University at Buffalo men's basketball team defeated fifth-seeded Kent State, 78-61, in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Friday night. The Bulls will play the winner of Toledo and Eastern Michigan tomorrow night for a chance to win their third MAC title in the last four years.
For the second straight night, Jeremy Harris came up big for the Bulls. The junior swingman had 22 points, including 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, and added five rebounds. Nick Perkins finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and C.J. Massinburg had 10 points to account for UB players in double-figures in the scoring column.
The Buffalo bench was the difference in this game. The Bulls had a 29-3 edge in bench points led by Dontay Caruthers who finished with nine points, four rebounds and three steals. Jayvon Graves, a Cleveland native, had eight points and three blocked shots for the Bulls.
It was another good defensive effort for the Bulls who feed off the blue-collar mentality. The Bulls tied a season high with nine blocks (three apiece by Graves and Davonta Jordan), had nine steals and scored 13 points off turnovers.
Buffalo took a 10-9 advantage on a fast-break dunk by Harris and never relinquished the lead. After taking a 39-29 lead to the locker room, a Perkins' free throw put the Bulls ahead, 56-38, with 14:03 left in the game.
A quick 8-0 run by the Golden Flashes cut the UB advantage to 56-46, but it wouldn't get any closer. Bookended by Graves' and Harris' three-pointers, a 12-1 scoring run ballooned the Buffalo lead to 68-47 with 6:55 left. Kent State got no closer than 13 the rest of the way.
"It was a hard‑fought game," head coach Nate Oats said. "We knew it was going to be that way of a game. Every game we play with Kent State ends up being a brawl. I told our guys, too, before the game, listen, they would rather go out with a fistfight than they would go home with a loss."
Buffalo's win over Kent State exacted some revenge from last season as the Golden Flashes ousted the Bulls from the MAC Tournament one year ago tonight.
Buffalo will play the Toledo/Eastern Michigan winner at 7:00 pm on ESPN2. It will follow the Women's MAC Championship game between Buffalo and Central Michigan that tips at 11:00 am and airs on CBS Sports Network.