UB men's basketball repeats as MAC Tournament champions

The Bulls top Bowling Green in the tournament final for a record-setting win and fourth conference title in five years

Jon Simon
March 17, 2019 - 12:11 am

Photo: Ken Blaze - USA TODAY Sports

The 18th-ranked University at Buffalo men’s basketball team (31-3, 16-2) took home their second-consecutive Mid-American Conference Tournament championship on Saturday night, defeating Bowling Green (22-12, 12-6) 87-73 in the tournament final at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

The victory over the Falcons was the Bulls’ 31st of the year, setting a new MAC record for wins in a single season. UB also became the first MAC team to win four conference tournament titles in five years (2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019).

Defeating the MAC's third-seed Falcons also provided a bit of a revenge for the top-seeded Bulls. Bowling Green was the last team to beat UB when they topped the Bulls 92-88 in Ohio on February 1.

Since that loss at Bowling Green, UB has won 12 consecutive games, a strong win-streak to ride heading into the NCAA tournament.

The Bulls opened the game strong and were the better team for most of the first half. UB led by as much as 15 in the opening frame, but Bowling Green was able to cut the deficit to one by halftime, trailing the Bulls 39-38 at the break.

Neither team was able to pull ahead by more than three points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Bowling Green went ahead 64-61 with a little under nine minutes to go, and that’s when the tables turned in the Bulls’ favor.

The Bulls would out-score Bowling Green 26-9 in the final eight and half minutes of the game. Jeremy Harris scored seven of his game-high 31 points during that run. The senior guard also dished out five assists and shot 4-for-8 from three-point range. Harris received the honor as the tournament's Most Valuable Player as he scored 66 points in the Bulls’ three MAC tournament games.

UB turned in a strong defensive performance down the stretch. Bowling Green shot 1-for-9 from the field in the final eight minutes and turned the ball over three times.

The MAC regular season MVP CJ Massinburg finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jayvon Graves dropped 17 points as well and pulled in seven boards.

Nick Perkins, the 2018-19 MAC sixth man of the year, had an off night, finishing with just five points on 1-of-5 shooting. The senior forward fouled out with 4:26 left in the game.

Graves hit a three-pointer to put UB in front 77-71 with 4:10 to play and the Bulls would pull away from there. Harris scored eight points over the following three possessions with two strong takes to the basket with a three-pointer in between. Harris’ personal 8-0 run would put UB up 84-71 with two minutes to go and the Bulls rode the clock out from there.

The Bulls receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with the conference tournament title; they’ll find out their seed, region and first round opponent for the NCAA tournament on Sunday night after the rest of the conference tournaments are finished. The NCAA Tournament selection show will air on CBS at 6 p.m. on Sunday night.

 

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