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2016-17 MAC Men’s Basketball Recap: Buffalo Bulls vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles

Blake Hamilton and the Bulls rebounded as they ended the Eagles’ three-game winning streak with a 77-68 victory.

NCAA Basketball: Buffalo at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Reports of the Buffalo Bulls’ demise have been greatly exaggerated as they took down a very tough Eastern Michigan Eagles team on the road 77-68. The Bulls (7-8, 1-1 MAC) had strong play from their starters as four scored double-figures, with Blake Hamilton dropping 21 points on the day and was a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line, C.J. Massinburg recording a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Nick Perkins wasn’t far behind with 12 points and eight boards. Willie Magnum IV carried the Eagles (9-6, 1-1 MAC) with 17 points off of 3-8 shooting from long range, but they lost the battle on the glass 46-36 against the defending MAC champions.

EMU took asserted itself early in the first half as a trey from Magnum and a pair of free throws from Ray Lee gave the team a 16-8 advantage 13:11 to go in the half. A 15-6 run by the Bull erased that advantage as Hamilton dropped five during the stretch. The teams took each other’s best shot for the rest of the half, but UB managed to take a 38-35 lead into the intermission.

The second half featured the two teams exchanged body blows for much of the half as no team was able to take control of the game for a significant period of time. Then an 8-0 run by Buffalo to go ahead 65-56 with 6:49 remaining put EMU behind the eight-ball, but the Eagles put together a spirited rally to get within one as another Magnum three-ball made the deficit 67-66 with 4:16 remaining on the regulation. Layups by Hamilton and Conner gave the Bulls some breathing room and forced Eastern Michigan to foul, as UB did not miss at the line in crunch time and the team coasted to a 77-68 victory.

Both teams left a lot of points on the floor this afternoon with Buffalo shooting 38.7% from the floor and missing 10 free throws while EMU shot 36.8% from the field and went 20-26 from the charity stripe. This was a huge, potentially season-saving win for UB as it went on the road and beat a team that is going to make some hay in the MAC and it was able to stop its skid. Meanwhile, this is a tough loss for Eastern Michigan since it had the defending MAC champion on the ropes in their house and couldn’t seal the deal. Both teams have their share of flaws, so it will be interesting to see where these two end up in the grand scheme of things.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Buffalo as it hosts the Ohio Bobcats at 7 p.m. Tuesday, while EMU makes a southbound trip to take on the Bowling Green Falcons at the same time.