Bulls Earn Hard Fought Road Victory At Toledo, 88-82

Jeremy Harris at Toledo

TOLEDO, OH – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team outscored the host Toledo Rockets 52-43 in the second half as the Bulls came back to defeat Toledo, 88-82, in front of a sold out crowd of 7,401, the largest crowd ever at Savage Arena since the building was reconfigured prior to the 2008-09 season.  With the win, Buffalo improves to 22-3 and 10-2 in MAC play.

Early on it looked like the deck was stacked against the Bulls as UB had numerous players in foul trouble, in addition to hitting just one of their first 11 shots from the field.  The Rockets opened a 10-0 lead and quickly extended the advantage to 17-4, six and a half minutes in, taking their largest lead of the night.

The Bulls had six turnovers in the first eight and a half minutes, but then did a much better job taking care of the ball, with just six turnovers for the final 31 and a half minutes of the game. The Rockets continued to lead by double figures at 24-14 with 8:19 left and rebuilt a 10-point lead at 35-25 with 3:27 left when the Bulls cut into the deficit. UB scored seven straight points, capped off on a three-point play from senior Jeremy Harris to pull back within three at 35-32.  Following a late alley-oop from senior Montell McRae, the Bulls went to the half trailing just, 39-36.

Freshman Jeenathan Williams gave the Bulls outstanding minutes in the opening half, including a pair of driving layups to pull UB closer at the break.

Toledo continued to lead by seven four minutes into the second half, but the Bulls got a three from senior Nick Perkins, one of four he hit in the second half of the game. A pair of free throws from senior Dontay Caruthers tied the game up for the first time at 52-52 with 12:54 left.

The Bulls trailed 56-54 with 11:38 left when UB went on a 10-2 run, as Perkins hit another three to beat the shot clock, giving Buffalo a 64-58 lead with 8:07 left.  Toledo would cut it back to two, but Perkins responded with two more threes, which put the Bulls ahead 70-62 with 5:38 left, forcing the Rockets to call timeout.

Toledo pulled as close as five on a number of occasions, but a pair of free throws from senior CJ Massinburg gave Buffalo a double-digit lead at 80-70 with 1:40 left.  The Bulls would lead by as many as 11, but Toledo would cut it to six late, hitting a pair of three pointers in the final eight seconds.

"It was a great crowd tonight and I thought Toledo did a good job being the aggressor early on," said head coach Nate Oats. "They are a really good team that deserves to be in the conversation for an at-large bid.  But I am proud of the way our guys responded, and it took a lot of maturity to come back in that environment and get a win."

Perkins tied his career high with 26 points, 19 of those coming in the second half. He had a double-double with 10 rebounds, nine of those coming on the defensive end.

In all, five players scored in double figures, including 14 from Massinburg and 12 from McRae, who added five rebounds, four of those on the offensive end.

Senior Jeremy Harris also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. It was the first time since Jan. 26 of last season that UB had two players with double-doubles in the same game.

Senior Dontay Caruthers added 10 points as UB's five-member senior class scored 73 of the 88 points tonight.

Junior Davonta Jordan added seven points, while Williams and sophomore Jayvon Graves each added four points.

Buffalo owned the glass with a 46-37 advantage in the rebounding department, while defensively the Bulls held Toledo to just 23.1% from three in the first half and just 30% for the game.

The Bulls also held a huge advantage in bench points, outscoring the Toledo bench, 40-11.

Having wrapped up a stretch of five of seven games on the road, the Bulls will now open a season-long three-game home stand beginning on Tuesday night when Buffalo hosts Ohio. Tipoff is set for 7pm.