Bulls Roll Past Eastern Michigan 74-58 For MAC-Opening Win

Montell McRae - Eastern Michigan

YPSILANTI, MI – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team used a 12-0 first half run as they defeated Eastern Michigan 74-58 in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams. The UB defense held Eastern Michigan to just 33.3% shooting as the Bulls improved to 13-1 on the season.  It is the best start through 14 games since Buffalo won 14 straight to open the year in 1930-31.

Both teams started off slow as Eastern Michigan held a 15-11 lead midway through the opening half.  However, the Bulls got a huge spark from senior Montell McRae as he scored 10 straight points during a 12-0 run, giving the Bulls a 23-15 lead and they never looked back.

A three pointer from senior CJ Massinburg gave the Bulls their largest lead of the half at 30-19 and another three put the Bulls into the break with a 33-23 lead.  The 23 points allowed by UB in the first half was their second fewest allowed in the opening half this season.

A triple from sophomore Jayvon Graves extended the Buffalo lead to 44-27 with 16:07 left in the second half and a fast break dunk from Graves gave the Bulls their first 20-point lead at 51-31. Another three from Graves gave the Bulls their largest lead at 57-32 with 10:11 left.

Eastern Michigan never got any closer than 17 as a layup from sophomore Tra'Von Fagan extended the lead back up to 25 with 1:24 left before a late run by EMU made the final score 74-58.

"I thought we started off a little slow tonight, but it takes some time to figure that zone out," said head coach Nate Oats.  "Montell was a huge spark for us early and he really got the whole team going. Our guys played hard and responded well and this was definitely a nice way to open league play."

McRae finished with a career high 18 points as he went 8-of-9 from the floor and 2-for-3 from three-point range.  He also added seven rebounds in 23 minutes of action.

Playing in front of his home crowd, Ypsilanti, MI native Nick Perkins finished with 15 points and six rebounds, while Massinburg added 12 points and a team-high four assists.

Senior Jeremy Harris had nine points, while finishing with a season-high 12 rebounds.  Graves had eight points, while Fagan added six points in just two minutes.

The Bulls shot 50% for the night, including 20-of-30 from inside the arc, good for 66.7%.  On the flip side, the UB defense held EMU to just 33.3% shooting and 26.9% from long range.  It was the fifth time this year that Buffalo has held an opponent to under 60 points.

The win closed out a tough four-game road trip that saw the Bulls go 3-1 with their lone loss coming at nationally-ranked, Marquette.

The nationally-ranked Buffalo team will finally return to Alumni Arena on Tuesday to begin a two-game home stretch.  UB will welcome Toledo to town on Tuesday in a rematch of last year's MAC Championship game.  Tipoff is at 7pm.