Bulls on fire

Buffalo wins sixth straight against Akron

mensbball

The Buffalo Bulls continue to be the hottest team in town with another win against the Akron Zips on Tuesday night. Buffalo kept a rowdy crowd on the edge of their seats until the final four minutes where it finally took control.

The Bulls (25-3, 13-2 Mid-American Conference) defeated Akron (15-13, 7-8 MAC) 77-64. The Zips have accounted for two of Buffalo’s six wins on its current win streak and UB stretched its home winning streak to 25 games. The last time UB men’s basketball lost at home was Dec. 2, 2017 against St. Bonaventure. The Bulls expect to keep the streak going with only one home game left this season.

“We want to protect home court,” senior guard CJ Massinburg said. “We don’t want anybody to just walk in and try to punk us. We definitely take pride in defending the home court.”

“It’s become really important,” said senior forward Nick Perkins. “We want to leave a legacy here.”

Massinburg and Perkins have already left their legacies at UB. Both players are in the top five scorers of all time and have been a part of the winningest team in program history. Massinburg entered the all time top 20 scorers in the MAC with his 23-point performance, passing former NBA player Wally Szczerbiak.

Head coach Nate Oats was included in the record-breaking performances. He surpassed former coach Bobby Hurley to have the highest winning percentage in school history. Oats is at .681, Hurley finished at .67.

“I must have been pretty bad my first couple of years here,” Oats said. “I mean we’re 25-3 and I just now finally passed him. Bobby came in here and got this thing turned around and got to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. I appreciate everything he has done for my career. … To be in the same conversations with him right now, it’s nice to know that.”

Akron came into the game allowing only 62.6 points per game, 15th best in the nation. The Bulls have finished with 76 and 77 points in regulation against them in each of their games. Both were the most points scored against them in regulation this season.

Still, it wasn’t easy for Buffalo to get to 77.

The Bulls were down at halftime for just the eighth time this season after Akron’s Tyler Cheese hit a three-point shot with two seconds left in the half to give them a 36-35 lead. Buffalo was 5-2 when down at half while Akron was 12-4 when leading.

UB and Akron went back and forth throughout the half as they continually traded baskets. The Zips continued to lead 59-57 with 7:54 remaining in the first.

Akron scored just five more points over the remaining time, compared to Buffalo’s 20. Perkins scored four-straight points to take the lead. Sophomore guard Jayvon Graves blocked a three on one end and sprinted down to the other side of the court to finish a dunk as the Alumni Arena crowd rose to their feet for the first time all night.

“More similar to a boxing match than a basketball game,” said Akron head coach John Groce. “I mean that in a positive way for both teams and I thought they battled and fought like they would.”

Buffalo outscored Akron 14-2 over the final four minutes.

Massinburg finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists with no turnovers and Perkins had a game-high 25 points along with five rebounds and two blocks.

Graves, who went to Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Graves has averaged over 15 points per game in his last three contests.

The Bulls now head on the road for the final time this season with games against Miami (OH) and Ohio. Buffalo will play Miami (OH) this Friday at 8 p.m. The RedHawks most recently defeated Bowling Green 82-69. The game will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.

Nathaniel Mendelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @NateMendelson.

NATHANIEL MENDELSON


 Nathaniel Mendelson has been writing for The Spectrum since 2018, mainly covering football, men's basketball and softball. He currently works for The Buffalo News and has a daily article on buffalobills.com. Other responsibilities include managing the office fish tank.