Buffalo basketball had long been a secondary thought to Syracuse in Upstate New York, but when the final buzzer sounded, it was clear the Bulls team rules the area this season.
Nate Oats and the No. 14 Bulls convincingly took down the perennial tournament qualifier in the Carrier Dome, 71-59, behind a furious second half rally. Now sporting an 11-0 record, Buffalo remains one of nine perfect teams in the country in elite hands with Kansas, Michigan, Virginia, Nevada, Texas Tech, Houston, Furman, and St. John’s.
In an energetic atmosphere with onlookers decked in both orange and blue, Buffalo had no problem making itself feel at home. The Bulls recorded their fourth road win of the season, dating back to their early November overtime win at West Virginia. Although the team’s typically strong 3-point shooting suffered, Buffalo found other areas to dominate in such as on the glass (48-35 advantage) and at the charity stripe (75%-38.5% advantage).
After dropping 43 against West Virginia, shooting guard C.J. Massinburg found his touch once again to produce 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting — his second best scoring output of the year. Massinburg also drained two of the most vital shots in the Bulls’ statement victory. With a 59-57 lead with 3:50 left, Davonta Jordan nailed a three to provide Buffalo a 5-point lead. Then, Massinburg converted on a jumper and another triple on consecutive possessions to secure a 10-point lead that would not be contested.
Syracuse (7-4) led 36-32 at halftime, earning as large as a 9-point advantage in the first half. Buffalo didn’t even get its first lead until Jeremy Harris made a three to lead 50-48. With the defeat, the Orange lost their second-consecutive game to a mid-major after coming up short against Old Dominion last Saturday. Syracuse hadn’t lost to Buffalo since 1963, winning 11-straight during the 53 years in between.
Buffalo (11-0) is now off to its best start since 1930-31, but it will be a quick turnaround for one of college basketball’s breakout teams. The reigning MAC champions travel to Wisconsin for a battle with No. 20 Marquette in hopes of sustaining that zero in the loss column and increasing the lofty ranking.