Both teams felt their way around early before Syracuse started to make a few runs, usually after some sloppy ball handling by the Bulls. For most of the first half, the Bulls were able to answer the runs, but never could catch all the way up.
The Orange were effective working the ball inside for most of the half, and took a 32-23 lead at the 3:31 mark that forced Nate Oats to call a timeout. The Orange were hitting over 50% from the floor at that point, mostly because of how they worked the ball inside or ran after a Buffalo turnover.
The Bulls slumped and struggled to answer the last run. Wes Clark hit a jumper late to keep the Syracuse lead under 10 going into the locker room but the Bulls still trailed, 36-27. His clutch shooting in the half, he was 3 of 5 from three, helped keep Buffalo within striking distance.
At the half, Syracuse was led in scoring by Columbus native Matthew Moyer, who had 10 points and 9 rebounds, while Clark had 11 points for Buffalo.
Syracuse opened up the first half attacking the paint and took a 40-27 lead. They stretched it to 44-31 before Buffalo went went on a mini run to close within 8, 44-36 at the 15:22 timeout. After a Syracuse miss, C.J. Massinburg was fouled on a three pointer, knocked down all three, and just like that, Buffalo was only down 5.
Both teams were playing hard all game, and at the 11:39 timeout, 50-44. Even the announcers commented on how many times each team hit the floor.
Massinburg, who was making all his points from the free throw line, hit a three and Nick Perkins had a huge rebound and put back to pull the Bulls within 1. A Clark jumper gave the Bulls their first lead since early in the first half.
A Frank Howard three got the crowd up but Perkins hit a step back three to promptly knock them back out of the game.
The two teams stayed close and the crowd started to wake, realizing that it was going to be a game. The Orange responded, and went on a run to take the lead 67-62 before Massinburg hit a cutting Jayvon Graves who got the bounce. With only 3:34 left, the Orange led, 67-64.
Buffalo made two steals and took the lead 68-67 before Frank Howard made a huge three to put the Orange back on top. After a couple of free throws, the Bulls had the ball down 4 with a little under 2 minutes to go. Then the Syracuse zone did it’s thing, and they turned it over. Frank Howard got an easy bucket, giving Syracuse a huge advantage.
Buffalo put up some threes late, but the they couldn’t find the bottom of the net until 31.5 seconds left to close 75-71. Then Syracuse hit their free throws, as Buffalo hit another three, and closed out the win, 81-74
Buffalo shot 10-34 from three, but only managed 26-69 overall. Buffalo held the rebounding edge most of the game, but all the late threes helped give Syracuse the final edge, 37-35.
Freshman Oshae Brissett led the Orange with 25 and Frank Howard chipped in 18. Nick Perkins led the Bulls with 18 and Wes Clark added 15.
The Bulls are now 7-4 on the season, and face a tough road test Thursday against top 10 Texas A&M.