BUFFALO, NY –The University at Buffalo men's basketball team won their 21st straight game inside Alumni Arena on Tuesday night as the Bulls led for all 40 minutes in an 83-59 victory over Ball State. With the win, UB improves to 19-2 on the year and 7-1 in school play. It is the first time in school history that Buffalo has won 19 games before the start of February.
While it took a while for things to flow offensively for UB, the defense was on its game all evening, holding the Cardinals to 32.3% shooting and just 8.7% from three as Ball State shot 2-of-23 from behind the arc. Both shooting totals were a season low for a Buffalo opponent this season.
Through the first 10 minutes of play, Ball State scored just six points, but the Cardinals managed to stay in the contest due to some poor shooting from the Bulls. However, with UB leading by five, the Bulls went on a quick 8-0 run to take a 21-8 lead with 8:04 left. UB got contributions throughout the lineup, including a highlight reel follow up dunk from freshman Jeenathan Williams.
Ball State had pulled back within six, but a pair of free throws from sophomore Jayvon Graves gave UB its largest lead of the first half at 33-19. The Bulls went into the break, leading 35-22.
The Bulls opened up an 18-point lead five minutes into the second half following a fast break dunk from senior Dontay Caruthers, putting Buffalo ahead 46-28. Ball State pulled within 12 with 11:46 left but that is as close as they would get as the Bulls went on a 12-2 run, capped off on another dunk from Caruthers, extending the lead to 60-38. During that run, five of the six baskets were high-flying dunks.
Ball State would cut the lead to 14 with 4:19 left, but the Bulls answered with another 7-0 run. A pair of late three pointers from freshman Ronaldo Segu gave Buffalo its largest lead of the night at 83-58 before Ball State hit a late free throw at the end.
"That was a pretty quality win," said head coach Nate Oats. "I thought that was the best defense we have played for most of the game, until we gave up a few of those offensive rebounds in the middle of the second half. But to start the game, I think they only had eight points after the third media timeout, I was really happy with our effort on the defensive end. I thought our guys locked in defensively."
Caruthers paced four Buffalo players in double figures with a game-high 21 points as he went 8-of-10 from the field and 2-for-2 from behind the arc. Senior CJ Massinburg added 16 points as he moved into fourth place on UB's all-time scoring list with 1,715 career points. Massinburg also added nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Tuesday night marked the first appearance of the year for Dominic Johnson, who has walked on from the football team for the second straight year. Johnson played just under four minutes and recorded three rebounds, including two on the offensive end.
Buffalo recorded a season high 51 rebounds, the first time since the season opener at West Virginia that they had at least 50 rebounds in a game.
After struggling with turnovers over the last four games, the Bulls had just eight in the game to go along with 17 assists. On the other hand, Ball State turned it over 18 times and had just four assists in the game.
UB returns to the road on Friday night when the Bulls head to Bowling Green for a nationally televised affair on CBS Sports Network. Tipoff is at 8pm. The Falcons are currently a half game behind UB in the MAC East at 6-1.