No. 16 UB tops Eastern Michigan to improve to 17-1

CJ Massinburg leads the Bulls to their second win over EMU this season

Jon Simon
January 18, 2019 - 11:44 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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The 16th-ranked UB men’s basketball team improved to 17-1 overall and 5-0 in the Mid-American Conference on Friday night with a 77-65 win over Eastern Michigan (8-10, 2-3) at Alumni Arena. The victory over the Eagles was the Bulls’ second this season; they defeated EMU 74-58 in Ypsilanti, Michigan back on January 4.

The Eagles gave UB quite a fight in their rematch from just over two weeks ago. On the scoreboard, UB was able to beat EMU by double-digits again, but the Eagles hung tough with the Bulls on the court for a good stretch of the game.

UB got out to a 15-4 lead in the first 6:20 of the game, despite shooting a cold 1-of-8 from the floor to start the night. The Bulls set the tone early on the glass, grabbing five offensive rebounds in the first five minutes, leading to extra possessions and second-chance baskets. The Bulls finished the night out-rebounding EMU 39-29.

EMU was able to scratch their way back into the game midway through the first half. UB got into a bit of foul trouble, racking up nine team fouls in the first 10 minutes.

The Eagles went on a run of their own and cut the Bulls’ lead down to one after a made free-throw from Boubacar Toure made the score 19-18.

Both the Bulls and Eagles went through a stretch of sloppy play after the score got close midway through the first half. The pace of the game slowed down with a number of foul calls and both teams had their fair share of turnovers (UB finished with 16 total, 14 for EMU).

The Bulls were able to close out the first half on another solid run. Nick Perkins checked back into the game with about 5:30 left in the half and provided an immediate spark on the first possession, pulling down a missed three from Jeremy Harris and putting it right back up to give UB a six-point lead.

Less than a minute later, Montell McRae hit a three-pointer to put UB up 34-25, giving the Bulls their largest lead over the previous nine minutes.

UB closed out the first half strong. CJ Massinburg got the crowd on their feet for the final minute after he stripped the ball from EMU’s Bud Jones under the Bulls’ basket and then nailed his fourth three-pointer of the half at the other end, putting UB up 41-27.

The cheers that were started by the senior guard’s play continued throughout the waning seconds of the first half as the Bulls took a 41-29 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes of play. Massinburg and Perkins were responsible for 32 of the Bulls’ 41 points in the first half, scoring 17 and 15 respectively.  

EMU opened the second half with a 6-0 run that got them back into the game and continued to hang around for the first 10 minutes of the second frame. Each time UB was able to string a few baskets together and build another lead, Eastern managed to find their way back in it.

It seemed like the Bulls were finally ready to pull away when they led 54-41 at the first media timeout with 14:23 remaining, but EMU continued the trend and battled their way back once again.

The Eagles played a zone defense that gave the Bulls a lot of fits and forced a number of turnovers. The Bulls struggles paid off for EMU as they cut the UB lead all the way down to two and trailed 58-56 with 8:43 left to play.

The lead getting cut down to two must’ve been a wake-up call for UB, because from that point on the momentum shifted back in favor of the Bulls. Massinburg made a layup on the following possession to put UB up 60-56. From there, UB didn’t look back, going on a 17-1 run over the next 4:15 to finally pull away for good.

Massinburg was the spearhead of the UB offense during the final run that put EMU away. The senior guard scored 12 of the 17 points during that stretch and shot 3-of-3 from the field.

Massinburg finished with a game-high 31 points, shooting 10-of-16 from the field and 6-of-12 from behind the arc. Perkins cooled off in the second half but still finished with 21 points and six rebounds.

The 17-1 run by UB proved to be the final dagger, EMU just didn’t have enough time or gas left in the tank to put together another comeback, despite the Bulls scoring just three points in the final four minutes.

The Bulls' next game will be on Tuesday, January 22 when they head to Northern Illinois to take on the Huskies (10-7, 3-1). Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST and will be available on ESPN+. You can also listen to the game, along with pre-game and post-game coverage, on ESPN 1520.

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