MUNCIE, IN – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team snapped Ball State's nine-game winning streak on Saturday afternoon as the Bulls allowed just 63 points in a dominating 83-63 win at Worthen Arena. The victory was UB's third straight as the Bulls improve to 10-5 on the season and 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2013-14.
The Bulls held the lead for nearly the entire afternoon as Ball State didn't lead after the first two minutes. UB had its best defensive half of the season during the opening 20 minutes as Ball State shot 24.2% from the field, hitting just eight of 33 shots, including 4-of-23 from inside the arc.
UB started off slow offensively, leading just 11-10 when the Bulls scored nine straight, capped off on a three from freshman Jayvon Graves, giving UB the 20-10 advantage with 11:04 left. A jumper from Jeremy Harris with 1:25 left gave Buffalo its largest lead of the half at 41-23 and the Bulls took a 43-25 advantage into the break.
The Bulls built their lead up to 20 early in the second half, but the Cardinals fought back as a Sean Sellers three-pointer got them within 53-42 with 14:34 left, but the Bulls answered with back-to-back triples from Graves and Wes Clark to regain a 59-42 lead. Ball State cut it back to 12 on a couple occasions, but never got any closer.
Ball State was within 13 with 3:41 left, but the Bulls capped off the victory by going on a 9-0 run over the next 2:20 as a jumper from Clark gave UB its largest lead of the game at 83-61. Ball State scored a late bucket, but the Bulls still came away with the 20-point road victory.
"We always knew we could score, but we have been challenging our guys to be better defensively and today they accepted that challenge," said head coach Nate Oats. "We knew this was going to be a tough game as Ball State had won nine in a row, but we got contributions from the entire team, and the energy on the bench was fantastic, and if we can keep this up defensively we are going to be hard to beat."
The Bulls had five players in double figures led by 16 points each from Harris and Graves. Harris added seven rebounds and three assists. For Graves, it was a new career high in scoring as he went 5-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-5 from behind the arc.
Junior Nick Perkins finished with his second straight double-double as he had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Junior CJ Massinburg added 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, a block, and three steals, while Clark had 10 points, three rebounds, four assists, a block and two steals.
Junior Montell McRae added five points and four rebounds, while Ikenna Smart finished with four points and five rebounds. Davonta Jordan and James Reese each had a pair of points. With the big lead late, UB was able to get all 13 healthy players in the game, including Colby Moultrie, Gabe Agorioge, and Dominic Johnson. Redshirt freshman Brock Bertram also made an appearance late.
The Bulls finished the afternoon with 19 assists and just 10 turnovers, while outrebounding Ball State, 44-34. This marks the second straight year that the Bulls have had a dominating performance at Worthen Arena as last year Buffalo defeated Ball State, 96-69.
Ball State, who lost for the first time since late November, fell to 10-5 on the season and 1-1 in league play. Sellers led Ball State with 17 points.
Buffalo will remain on the road Tuesday night for its first game against the MAC East, as the Bulls will play Akron at 7pm. The game will air live on ESPN3.