Bulls scrape together win in Southern Illinois

Buffalo wins in follow-up to West Virginia upset

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The Bulls made back-to-back road wins with their 62-53 victory over the Southern Illinois Salukis on Monday night. The No. 25-ranked men’s basketball team came in to the road matchup off the program’s first top 25 ranking. 

Buffalo (3-0) had a rough night on offense, shooting 35.5 percent from the court and missing open looks. The Bulls relied on their defense and rebounding to edge the win at SIU Arena.

“[Southern Illinois]​ is a tough environment to win in, couldn't be prouder of our guys during this road trip," said head coach Nate Oats at the post-game press conference. “We came right here from West Virginia the next morning. It's nice to leave [here] with a win.”

Senior forwards Jeremy Harris and Montell McRae both had a team-high 11 points. Senior guard CJ Massinburg followed up his 43-point and 14-rebound performance from the West Virginia Mountaineers (0-1) game, with 7 points and 6 rebounds Monday night. Senior Forward Nick Perkins was solid on the boards with 11 rebounds but finished with 7 turnovers.

The Salukis (0-2) relied on limiting the Buffalo offense and junior center Kavion Pippen’s team-high of 18 points. Buffalo stilled edged out a 41-33 rebounding advantage.

“Coach harps on that, ‘we got to rebound’,” said junior guard Davonta Jordan. “Kentucky rebounded the heck out of them when they played them. We wanted to go in there and kick them on the glass.”

Jordan finished with 9 points and 5 assists.

The Salukis led most of the first half and took an early 16-8 lead. Buffalo never let the Salukis lead go over 10. The Bulls took the lead back with less than 90 seconds left in the first with two free throws from freshman forward Jeenathan Williams.

Buffalo held the lead for the rest of the game, but Southern Illinois was able to cut at the Bull’s late-game 60-44 lead and make it only a 9-point win.

“We just got ranked for the first time in school history, we could have came in really immature with a poor attitude,” Oats said. “After we get all the accolades, how are we going to come in and respond to it? I thought they responded well. I feel we got a really mature group.”

Buffalo is 3-0 for the first time at the Division I level. 

Buffalo plays next on Nov. 21 in a home matchup against Dartmouth (2-1) at 7 p.m.

The sports desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com