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Stingy defense leads #22 UB men's basketball to fifth straight win

UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO ATHLETICS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The nationally-ranked University at Buffalo men's basketball team allowed just 49 points on Saturday afternoon as the Bulls won their fifth straight game to open the season, defeating Marist, 76-49.  The Bulls improve to 5-0 on the year. 
Buffalo got a huge spark off the bench against the Red Foxes as leading scorer CJ Massinburg, who missed Wednesday's game with a minor injury, returned to lineup and scored a game-high 21 points, going 7-of-10 from the floor, hitting 6-of-7 from behind the arc.
It was a slow start for UB, who found themselves trailing 9-4 early on. The Bulls continued to trail 11-8 at the under 12 minute media timeout, but that was erased on a three by senior Jeremy Harris.  With the Bulls leading by just one, Buffalo went on a quick 10-2 run, extending its lead to 26-17 with 3:57 left.  Marist had cut the lead to six, but UB scored the final eight points of the half over the final 86 seconds, including a pair of threes from Massinburg, taking a 34-20 lead into the break.
Buffalo extended its lead to 21 early in the second half on a triple by sophomore Jayvon Graves and the Bulls went to lead by as many 23 before Marist made a little run, but pulled no closer than 15 at 55-40 with 8:21 left.  The Bulls quickly answered by going on a 10-0 run, capped off on a four-point play from Massinburg, who drained a long three and was fouled, giving Buffalo the 65-40 lead with 4:32 left. Another three from Graves gave UB its largest lead of the night at 76-47 with 1:24 left as Buffalo went on to win by 27.
"We knew they were going to try and slow it down on us and obviously we like to play fast so it's not ideal for us, but we know everyone is going to do it," said head coach Nate Oats. "If teams are going to play like that, than we need to make sure we do a much better job on the defensive glass so we aren't guarding teams for a minute per possession.  I don't think we were great on offense today, but we were good enough to come away with a win, but I think the biggest area we need to improve on after this game is our defensive rebounding."
In addition to Massinburg's 21 points, the Bulls got 16 points from Graves, the second straight game he has scored 16, which ties his career high. Graves went 6-of-9 from the floor, tying his career high with four made three pointers.  He also added three rebounds and three blocked shots, which also ties his career high.  Through five games, Graves is now averaging 12.6 points per game.
Senior Montell McRae had eight points and three rebounds, while junior Davonta Jordan also added eight points. Harris finished with six points and set a new career high with eight assists, while not turning it over once.
Freshman Ronaldo Segu had five points and three assists, while Tra'Von Fagan and Nick Perkins each finished with four points.  Perkins did add seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
As a team, the Bulls had 20 assists on 27 made baskets, while they shot 50% from three-point range, hitting on 16-of-32 from behind the arc.  Defensively, the 49 points allowed by the Bulls are their fewest in a game since Northern Illinois scored 45 against Buffalo on February 17, 2017.
With the campus games of the Belfast Hall of Fame Classic in the books, the Bulls will now head across the pond to Belfast, Northern Ireland for their next two games in the Hall of Fame Classic, beginning with Milwaukee on Friday, Nov. 30.  That game will tip off at 10:30am local time and 5:30am in Buffalo.  Friday's games will air on the BBC Network, while Saturday's contests will air on CBS Sports Network.