BUFFALO, NY – Behind a career-high 26 points from junior Nick Perkins, the University at Buffalo men's basketball team won its season opener for the fourth straight year, defeating cross-town rival Canisius, 80-75. It was a back and forth affair that saw the Bulls trail for much of the second half.
The two teams began the afternoon on fire from the floor as UB used an early 6-0 run to take an 18-13 lead with 14:23 left. The Bulls took their largest lead of the game on a layup from junior Jeremy Harris, which gave Buffalo a 31-23 lead with 9:23 remaining. However, Canisius would go on to take the one-point lead before a late basket by redshirt freshman Brock Bertram put UB ahead by three at the break, 42-39.
The two teams traded the lead for much of the first 10 minutes of the second half before Canisius would pull ahead 64-59 with 9:49 left. The Griffs remained ahead by five at 73-68 with 4:09 remaining, but Buffalo got a big three pointer from Harris to cut the lead to two with 3:54 left. A pair of free throws by CJ Massinburg tied the game up, but Canisius would take the lead one more time on a free throw from Takal Molson with 1:14 remaining. UB came right back down the floor and answered with a bucket form Perkins to regain the lead, 75-74, and then that was followed up on a hustle play from sophomore Davonta Jordan who stole the Canisius pass and scored on the fast-break layup. The Griffs would cut it back to two with 27 seconds remaining, but Harris was fouled and he hit one of two from the line to put the UB lead back to 78-75 with 15 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Canisius turned it back over to Buffalo and Harris drained two more free throws to seal the deal.
"As impressive as Nick was on offensive today, I thought he was more impressive on defense guarding [Jermaine] Crumpton," said head coach Nate Oats. "Davonta wasn't a great shooter for us last year, but he put the work in all summer and it showed off today. Overall, we didn't shoot the ball great, but we played hard and we beat them on the glass and that was the difference in the ball game."
Perkins finished with a career-high 26 points as he went 9-of-17 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three-point range, tying his career high. Jordan also finished with a career high afternoon as he recorded 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals off the bench. Jordan was 7-of-8 from the field, including a perfect 2-of-2 from three.
Harris wrapped up the double figure scorers with 15 points, adding four rebounds. Massinburg had eight points and five rebounds, while Dontay Caruthers had seven points, four rebounds and three assists.
Freshman Jayvon Graves had four points and two rebounds in his debut, while Bertram added two points and three rebounds, all on the offensive end.
As a team, the Bulls finished with 21 offensive rebounds, holding a three-to-one advantage on the offensive glass over Canisius. The Bulls also held an advantage in most of the specialty stat categories with a 44-30 lead in points in the paint, a 19-5 lead in second chance points, an 8-0 lead in fast-break points, and a 22-9 advantage in bench points.
The Bulls will remain home on Wednesday night when the welcome Jacksonville State into Alumni Arena. Tip off is set for 7pm and it will air live on ESPN3.