Late Rally Gives Bulls 25th Win Of The Season In 77-64 Victory Over Akron

Nick Perkins - Celeb

BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team outscored the visiting Akron Zips, 42-28, in the second half as the Bulls went on a late second half run for a 77-64 win Tuesday night at Alumni Arena.  The victory was the 25th straight for UB at Alumni Arena and it was also their 25th of the year as the Bulls improve to 25-3 and 13-2 in Mid-American Conference play.

Akron entered the game 15th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 62.6 points per game, but the Bulls scored 77 against the Zips, the most a team has scored in regulation against Akron this year.

The Bulls had a hard time shaking Akron, who led for nearly 21 minutes in the game, but the Bulls tightened up their defense in the second half as the Zips shot 36.7% over the final 20 minutes and just 14.3% from three-point range.

Akron built an early seven-point advantage seven minutes into the first half as it lead 17-10 with 13:57 left and they continued to lead by four with 8:51 remaining when a three-pointer from Jayvon Graves capped off a quick 5-0 run to put the Bulls ahead.  The three from Graves also began a stretch of six straight possessions by the two teams that ended in triples.  The Bulls led by a possession late in the opening half, but Akron's Tyler Cheese hit a three as time expired to give the Zips a 36-35 lead into the break.

The Zips built their lead back up to five in the second half as a pair of free throws gave Akron a 53-48 lead with 12:59 left. Every time the Bulls would tie it up, the Zips would answer with a bucket and the visitors continue to hold a lead with 7:54 remaining at 59-57.

Akron scored just five points over the final 7:54 of the game as the Bulls began to take over.  Four straight points from senior Nick Perkins turned the deficit into a lead and then sophomore Jayvon Graves made what might be the game-turning play of the night.  Graves blocked a shot on one end and then streaked down the court and hammered a fast-break dunk, which put UB ahead 63-59 with just over five minutes left.

Akron would cut it to one on a corner three with 4:25 left, but a layup from junior Davonta Jordan opened a quick 6-0 run to pull UB ahead 69-62.  Senior CJ Massinburg scored the final six points of the night, including four at the free throw line for the final margin of victory.

"It was a tough, hard fought win, and it was a game that these two four-year seniors didn't want to lose," said head coach Nate Oats. "They haven't lost at home yet this year and they showed they didn't want to lose this one tonight.  Their level of play picked up in the second half.  You can tell Nick was just locked in, and he didn't care about anything other than winning this game."

Perkins led all scorers with 25 points, while Massinburg had 23 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists, while not turning the ball over.  Massinburg moved into 19th place on the Mid-American Conference's all-time scoring list as he now has 1,858 career points.

Graves added 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three blocked shots in just over 30 minutes of action.  He had four offensive rebounds, including three in the first five minutes of play.

Senior Dontay Caruthers finished with five points, three rebounds, and three assists, while Jordan and Jeremy Harris each finished with four points.

The Bulls held a 40-37 advantage on the glass, while UB had 20 assists as a team and just eight turnovers, while they forced 16 turnovers by the Zips.

Having swept their season-long three-game homestand, the Bulls will now take their six-game winning streak back on the road beginning on Friday night at Miami (OH).  The Bulls and RedHawks will tip it off at 8pm on CBS Sports Network.