UB Bulls fall to reigning champs Duke

Shooting woes hurt Buffalo in loss to No. 7 team in the country


The score stayed relatively close between the reigning national champions and the Buffalo men’s basketball team Saturday, but Duke’s elite roster held off a potential Buffalo run.

And it was Duke freshman Brandon Ingram that sparked the Blue Devils’122nd straight non-conference victory at home.

“I’m not an NBA scout, but I’ve seen a lot of basketball players in my day,” said first-year head coach Nate Oats. “And he looks like an NBA player to me … I don’t want to say Kevin Durant, but he’s a prototypical 6-foot-9 guy who can do a little bit of everything.”

Fueled by a 23-point outburst by Ingram, No. 7 Duke (8-1) defeated Buffalo (4-4) 82-59 on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Buffalo shot less than 23 percent from beyond the arc in its second consecutive loss first-ever trip to Durham, North Carolina.

All afternoon, the elusive Buffalo guards set up its three-point shooters with open shots, but Buffalo rarely made the most of its opportunities. The Bulls shot 23 times from beyond the arc, but also made five. In its last game against St. Bonaventure, Buffalo shot 1 of 13 from three-point range.

It was Duke’s underclassmen that led the way. The backcourt duo of Grayson Allen and Ingram combined for 45 points and 19 rebounds. Ingram, a hybrid guard/forward, dominated the paint and took advantage of Buffalo’s lack of size in the paint. Allen grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds and his first double-double of the year.

Ingram’s trademark shot all afternoon was a fake-right, pivot-left floater off the glass, which accounted for nearly half of his total points. Ingram is a true freshman that worked himself into the starting lineup this season and is one of many standout young players for Duke.

Ingram wasn’t the only standout freshman on the court.

Buffalo freshman guard CJ Massinburg was one of the most complete players for the Bulls, as he had a team-high 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and a blocked shot in 21 minutes off the bench. Massinburg, a first-year player from Texas, scored 13 of his points in the second half as Buffalo attempted to comeback from a 34-24 halftime deficit.

He played with poise and confidence, as he drove to the rim with ease. He executed multiple fast breaks and took smart shots with little defense around him.

“He’s a kid that I’ve talked about since he got here in June,” Oats said. “He comes in and does a lot of extra stuff and he plays hard in practice. I’ve coached him pretty hard for a freshman. He responds great to it. I told our guys if you plays as hard as this kid, we’re going to get you minutes.”

A three-pointer from senior guard Jarryn Skeete with 15:07 remaining in the game cut the deficit to single digits, but the relentless Blue Devils would spurn an 11-0 run over the next 2:40 to take a 20-point lead and end Buffalo’s comeback attempt.

Skeete went 2-of-7 from the perimeter Saturday after he was held without a point against St. Bonaventure. He is now shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc this season.

Senior forward/guard Rodell Wigginton came out hot, scoring Buffalo’s first two baskets of the game. It was foul trouble that kept him out of most of the first half and a large point differential in the second half that caused him to play only 18 minutes.

Duke’s clear-cut advantage entering the game was rebounding and post play, but Buffalo nearly edged out the Blue Devils in both of those categories. The Bulls grabbed 42 rebounds and scored 34 points in the paint, compared to 43 Duke rebounds and 36 points in the paint.

Freshmen forwards Ikenna Smart and Nick Perkins led the way for Buffalo with a combined 15 rebounds. Smart, who has had trouble staying out of foul trouble as of late, was never in danger of leaving the game despite his three personals. He controlled the rim and forced bad shots in the paint or Duke to kick the ball out to begin the play over again. He also added six points. Perkins went 2-of-4 from the perimeter.

Junior guard Blake Hamilton had perhaps his worse game with Buffalo. He shot 1-of-11 from the field and missed all four of his deep shots with three turnovers in 26 minutes played.

“We learned some stuff today,” Oats said. “I do think we got better in the game. We knew it was going to be hard. We came here for the environment to see what we can accomplish, see what we can do better.”

Buffalo continues its road trip when it enters Ames, Iowa to take on No. 5 Iowa State (6-0) on Monday. It is the first time a Mid-American Conference team will play consecutive games against teams ranked top-10 in the country since Eastern Michigan did so in 2012.

Monday’s tipoff is set for 9 p.m.

Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman.