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Bulls look to remain unbeaten in league play Tuesday night at Akron

UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO ATHLETICS


AKRON, Ohio -- Buffalo remains on the road Tuesday night when the Bulls will play their first game against the MAC East with a road contest at Akron.  UB is looking to remaining perfect in league play, while the Zips are searching for their first win.

Akron leads the all-time series 33-26 as the Zips won both meeting last season.  UB's last win in the series was Buffalo's second MAC Title as it defeated Akron 64-61 on March 12, 2016.  UB is looking for its first regular season win over Akron since the 2014-15 season and their first win in Rhodes Arena since 2011-12.

Tuesday night's game will mark a homecoming for freshman Jayvon Graves, who grew up in nearby Malvern, OH.  Graves, who was named the Ohio State Player of the Year after leading St. Vincent-St. Mary's to a state title, is coming off his best game as a Bull, scoring a career-high 16 points in the win at Ball State.

The 63 points allowed by the Bulls on Saturday afternoon at Ball State were the fewest that Buffalo has allowed against a D-I opponent.  UB held the Cardinals to just 24.2% shooting from the field in the first half.

Junior Nick Perkins, who was named the MAC Sixth Man of the Year last year and was named MAC East Player of the Week on Monday, has now come off the bench in five straight games and he is averaging 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in those five contests.  He had his first double-double of the year 24 points and 10 boards against Toledo and followed that up with 15 points and 11 rebounds against Ball State.

Buffalo leads the MAC and is 38th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 82.7 points per game.  UB has only averaged over 80.0 per game for a season once in their 100 year history.

The Bulls have had six different players score 20 or more points in a game this season, led by CJ Massinburg, who has done it nine times.  The six different players are tied for the national lead with Georgia Southern, Gonzaga, Penn, Seattle, and Arizona State.

Akron is 7-7 on the season and 0-2 in conference play, having played its first two conference games on the road, including a 67-65 loss at Toledo on Friday night.  The Zips are looking to get back to their winning ways as they have lost five of their last six games.  Akron is undefeated at home, winning all seven of their games at Rhodes Arena.

The Zips have three players averaging in double figures, led by Daniel Utomi, who is averaging 18.1 points per game, while he is shooting 44.3% from three. He is also Akron's leading rebounder at 6.6 boards per game.  Malcolm Duvivier, a graduate transfer from Oregon State, is averaging 14.6 points per game, while Jimond Ivey is averaging 12.6 points per game.

Tuesday night's game will be a battle of two of the top three-point shooting teams in the league.  Akron leads the MAC in three's made per game at 10.0.  Daniel Utomi and Malcolm Duvivier are the top two players in the league in three-pointers made per game at 3.4 and 3.3, respectively.

John Groce returned to the MAC this season as he is in his first year as head coach at Akron. Leading his teams to 19 postseason appearances, including two Mid-American Conference championships and an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance, Groce becomes the 22nd head coach of Akron men's basketball. Prior to joining the Zips, Groce was head men's basketball coach at the University of Illinois for five seasons. He led the Illini to an average of 19 wins per season. He arrived at Illinois after four seasons as head coach at Ohio University, where he led the Bobcats to an 85-56 overall record as well as Mid-American Conference Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2012.