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Buffalo routs No. 11 seed Arizona State

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Balanced No. 6 seed Buffalo advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year with a convincing 91-74 win over No. 11 seed Arizona State in a first-round matchup in Tulsa on Friday

Facing Bobby Hurley, their former head coach before he left for the Sun Devils four years ago, the Bulls knocked out a Pac-12 opponent in the first round for the second straight year. This time feels much different than last season’s upset win over No. 4 seed Arizona and Deandre Ayton.

Buffalo (32-3) had four double-figure scorers during a dominant win on Friday as they continue to look like the top-25 team they’ve been for most of the season. Jeremy Harris (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Nick Perkins (21 points, 10 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles for the Bulls while C.J. Massinburg (18 points) and Jayvon Graves (13 points) also finished in double-figures. The Bulls dominated on the glass as they won 39-25 on the boards as they had 11 offensive rebounds. Bench production was also important for Buffalo as they had 33 bench points on Friday.

Arizona State (23-11) knocked out St. John’s in a First Four game on Wednesday night as they shot the ball poorly from the perimeter on Friday. The Sun Devils didn’t knock down a three-pointer until the second half as they finished a dismal 3-for-22 shooting from distance. Zylan Cheatham was one of the few bright spots for the Sun Devils as he finished with 22 points while big man Romello White chipped in 12 points. After scoring 21 points in the win on Wednesday, freshman and leading scorer Luguentz Dort struggled to get going as he had 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting.

Buffalo advances to face No. 3 seed Texas Tech on Sunday in Tulsa as the Bulls will try to maintain their great offense against the No. 1 defense in the country. Besides for being a fun matchup of mid-major against Big 12 champion, Buffalo will also have its hands full trying to stop Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver, as he came up with a huge game on Friday as Texas Tech knocked out Northern Kentucky.

Buzzer-beating layup lifts N. Illinois past No. 14 Buffalo

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DEKALB, Ill. — Noah McCarty banked in a game-winning basket with 2 seconds to play, and Northern Illinois upset No. 14 Buffalo 77-75 on Tuesday night.

The Huskies reserve took a feed from Trendon Hankerson for the layup seconds after Buffalo had tied the game on a 3-pointer by C.J. Massinburg.

Dante Thorpe scored 23 points and Eugene German added 20 as Northern Illinois (11-8, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) ended a two-game skid and claimed its first home win over a ranked team since 1972.

Massinburg scored 23 points for the Bulls (17-2, 5-1 MAC), who saw their seven-game winning streak snapped. Jeremy Harris had 15 points, Nick Perkins added 12 and Jayvon Graves scored 10.

Northern Illinois’ last win over a ranked team anywhere was in 1973 over Oral Roberts at the Chicago Stadium. A year earlier, the Huskies beat No. 5 Indiana in DeKalb.

The Huskies led 73-66 with 1:26 remaining before Massinburg rallied Buffalo by scoring nine points in just over a minute, hitting two 3-pointers and making three free throws. Northern Illinois’ biggest lead was 10 points early in the second half.

BIG PICTURE

Buffalo: The Bulls are ranked for the 11th straight week, tying a MAC record set by Bowling Green in the 1961-62 season. Buffalo was also the first MAC team to start 17-1 or better since Western Michigan opened 1975-76 with 19 consecutive victories.

Northern Illinois: German has now scored in double figures in 51 consecutive games and 64 of his 80 career appearances.

UP NEXT

Buffalo concludes a two-game trip on Friday at Kent State, part of a run of five of seven games away from home.

Northern Illinois visits Akron on Saturday.

Perkins, No. 22 Buffalo blow out Dartmouth 110-71

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AMHERST, N.Y. — With a nine-day layoff between games, Buffalo’s players challenged each other in practice to stay sharp.

They may have given each other a tougher test than Dartmouth did on Wednesday night.

Nick Perkins had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 22 Buffalo scored the first 15 points and cruised to a 110-71 victory.

“I didn’t think we were going to have any problem scoring,” coach Nate Oats said. “Our practices are really intense, almost game-like. We didn’t even talk about Dartmouth for the first four days. We were really more concerned about us.”

Five players scored in double figures for Buffalo (4-0), which tied its record for points in a game since moving to Division I in 1994-95. The Bulls, who played without leading scorer C.J. Massinburg, have won their first four games for the first time since 1986-87, when they were in Division III.

Buffalo cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time last week.

“We’ve been a having a target on our backs since we’ve been winning the past year,” Perkins said. “It’s something that we’re used to. It got a little more intense with the number next to our name. Everybody outside of our conference is going to come at you.”

Davonta Jordan and Jayvon Graves scored 16 points apiece for Buffalo, while Jeremy Harris and Jeenathan Williams each had 11.

“Davonta got to the rim at will, and Jeremy was getting to the rim,” Oats said. “Any questions about whether we had rust or we weren’t going to be ready to play went out of the window in the first four or five minutes of the game.”

Ian Sistare scored 18 points for Dartmouth (3-2), all in the first half, and Chris Knight added 17.

Massinburg was sidelined with a sprained knee suffered Monday in practice. The senior guard had a career-high 43 points in the Bulls’ win over then-13th-ranked West Virginia, and is averaging 20.3 points per game. He’s expected to return sometime next week.

Buffalo made its first five shots. Dartmouth, meanwhile, missed its first eight before Sistare converted inside, and the Big Green never recovered.

“They’re really, really good at the beginning of possessions,” Dartmouth coach David McLaughlin said. “They run their stuff, but they’re really good at the end of possessions on the glass. If we were doing well at the glass, we were suffering in transition, and vice versa.”

Dartmouth made a push to make the game competitive in the first half, pulling within 28-25, but Buffalo used its size and speed to get easy baskets. Ten different players scored in the first half as the Bulls built a 55-39 lead at the break.

“We talk about pounding the stone,” Oats said. “At some point, they’re going to crack with as hard and as fast as we play. It’s going to blow the game wide open. We force teams to play fast.”

STATS

Buffalo shot 45 of 76 from the floor. The field-goal total was the most since Jan. 27, 1976, when the Bulls had 46 against Brockport State while playing at the Division III level.

BIG PICTURE

Buffalo is just the third team from the Mid-American Conference to be ranked in the AP Top 25 since 2000. The others were Kent State in 2008 and Ball State in 2001.

Dartmouth fell to 3-55 against ranked teams. Its last victory over a ranked team was March 13, 1956, when the Big Green beat No. 14 West Virginia, 63-61.

UP NEXT

Dartmouth: At San Francisco on Saturday.

Buffalo: Hosts Marist on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

MAC Preview: Can Central Michigan make a run?

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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the MAC.

The MAC enters the 2015-16 season with one clear favorite and a lot of teams fighting to form an identity. The two-division conference has some interesting candidates emerging from both sides of the equation, but one team stands out above the rest.

Central Michigan and head coach Keno Davis are coming off of a 23-win season and return all eight players who averaged at least 15 minutes a game last season, when the Chippewas made the NIT and won the West Division. Now the goal is the NCAA tournament as they have the pieces and experience to try to make a run. Led by MAC preseason player of the year favorite Chris Fowler at point guard, all eight of Central Michigan’s returning players can hit 3-pointers and they can space the floor in any lineup.

After a .500 finish in the MAC in 2014-15, Akron comes in as a major player thanks to the return of four starters and a solid backup guard in Antino Jackson. Senior center Pat Forsythe is a load to handle at 6-foot-11 and the Zips will ride his post touches and double-figure scoring as far as it can take them. Akron is coming off of a 21-14 season and the key could be the return of guard Noah Robotham, who tore his ACL in February.

Kent State checks in right behind Akron in the East Division thanks to the return of its three frontcourt starters and All-MAC junior power forward Jimmy Hall. The 6-foot-8 Hall is joined in the starting group by Chris Ortiz and Khaliq Spencer while Maine transfer Xavier Powell and redshirt guard Kellon Thomas, a former starter, could become the new starting perimeter tandem.

Similar to the Flashes in backstory is second-place in the West Division: Western Michigan. The Broncos lost some experienced guards but get back potential All-MAC forward Connar Tava for his senior season along with wing Tucker Haymond and 6-foot-10 sophomore Drake LaMont. With the addition of 7-foot recruit Seth Dugan and talented guard Bryce Moore, the Broncos could be a team that could make a surprise run.

Trailing Western Michigan in the West Division is Toledo, who has to replace the dynamic senior trio of double-figure scorers that are gone. Senior center Nathan Boothe returns and he’s joined by junior guard Jonathan Williams, so two double-figure scorers remain, but from there it will be interesting to see who takes over at point guard for the Rockets.

Things were looking very positive for Buffalo this summer, even with the loss of head coach Bobby Hurley to Arizona State. But then new head coach Nate Oats had to deal with the dismissal of MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss, which leaves the Bulls with a huge hole. Talent is still around, especially on the perimeter, where senior Jarryn Skeete and versatile sophomore Lamonte Bearden are back. But can the program withstand the loss of Hurley and the talent he took with to the Aztecs?

One team to keep tabs on is Miami (Ohio), as the RedHawks return four starters and six scholarship seniors, led by potential all-league selection Eric Washington. Miami is looking for its first winning record since 2009, but they have the potential talent of a postseason team. Northern Illinois has trended upward since head coach Mark Montgomery took over and the Huskies hope that three returning starters and three top rotation players gives them a winning record. Seniors Travon Baker and Darrell Bowie have both started a ton of games while junior Aaric Armstead has All-MAC potential.

It’s hard to say how Ball State will look but the addition of Youngstown State transfer Ryan Weber, graduate transfer center Nate Wells and the return of guard Jeremie Tyler will certainly help. MAC Freshman of the Year Sean Sellers also returns and he’s a threat to hit shots from all over the floor. Ohio has some talent in potential All-MAC center Antonio Campbell, but the Bobcats have to rely a lot on transfers for big production as former Houston point guard Jaaron Simmons and former Michigan State forward Kenny Kaminski earn primary roles.

Questions marks also fill the lineup of Rob Murphy’s Eastern Michigan squad. Junior guard Raven Lee is an All-MAC talent, but he’s the only returning starter to a team that will ask a lot of role players and recruits. Bowling Green brings back a starting backcourt, but loses a player to the NBA in Richaun Holmes. With a new head coach in Michael Huger and a five-man recruiting class, there are a lot of people acclimating to new roles in Division I basketball.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

COACH’S TAKE

  • Favorite: “When you return that much of your team like Central Michigan did, it’s hard to argue with the success they already had with 23 wins and the NIT appearance. Fowler and Simons are such a solid one-two punch.”
  • Sleeper: “Miami has a core of seniors that really wants to win and Eric Washington is a solid playmaker at guard. I could see them having a good season.”
  • Star to watch: “Chris Fowler is the ultimate leader and winner. He makes everyone else on Central Michigan better.”

PRESEASON MAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Chris Fowler, Central Michigan

Central Michigan enters the 2015-16 season as the most complete returning team in the MAC and Fowler is the engine that makes them go. An experienced guard with over 1,000 career points and loads of assists, the 6-foot-1 senior averaged 16.2 points and 6.1 assists per game last season while he helped lead the Chippewas to 23 wins and a NIT appearance.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-MAC TEAM:

  • Eric Washington, Miami (Ohio): If Fowler is the MAC’s top lead guard, then Washington is right behind him. The 5-foot-10 senior put up 14.2 points and 5.5 assists a game last season.
  • Jimmy Hall, Kent State: Coming off of a breakthrough sophomore season, the 6-foot-8 Hall will look to somehow improve on 15.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on 53 percent shooting.
  • Raven Lee, Eastern Michigan: A scoring guard coming off of a big sophomore season, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 16.7 points per game and was a second-team All-MAC selection last season.
  • John Simons, Central Michigan: The talented running mate of Chris Fowler, Simons is a lethal shooter, hitting 91 treys last season at a 45 percent clip. Averaging 12.3 points and 6.8 boards as a junior, the 6-foot-8 forward could be in line for a big senior season.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @HustleBelt

PREDICTED FINISH

EAST
1. Akron
2. Kent State
3. Buffalo
4. Miami (Ohio)
5. Ohio
6. Bowling Green
WEST
1. Central Michigan
2. Western Michigan
3. Toledo
4. Northern Illinois
5. Ball State
6. Eastern Michigan

Report: Three Buffalo players, including MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss, suspended after theft

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MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss is among three Buffalo players who were caught stealing money from members of the football team in June, according to a report from The Buffalo News.

Moss, a senior forward, fellow senior forward Raheem Johnson and sophomore guard Mory Diane took $650 from two victims in a second-degree burglary on June 2nd in which they illegally entered. The players later returned the money after the issue was brought up by members of the Buffalo coaching staff. No charges were filed in the matter, which was handled by University Police.

According to the Buffalo News report, citing the campus police report, all three players have been suspended from the basketball team since June 5.

The fate of the players will be decided by the Student-Wide Judiciary, which conducts hearings on student misconduct matters. The Buffalo News report states that the hearing could happen in the next two weeks. Possible punishment includes expulsion from school, or possibly being deemed ineligible for the first semester of the season.

If Moss were to miss any time for Buffalo, it would be a devastating loss, as he averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season. Johnson is a reserve forward who played around 11 minutes per game last season, while Diane hardly played during his freshman season.

Report: Ohio sophomore guard will transfer

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Ohio is losing a returning starter from last season, as sophomore guard Ryan Taylor is transferring, according to a report from Jason Arksley of the Athens Messenger.

The 6-foot-5 native of Gary, Indiana started 28 games last season for the Bobcats and was fourth on the team in scoring at 8.1 points per game. Taylor also put up 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game on 43 percent shooting.

According to Arksley’s report, Ohio head coach Saul Phillips felt that this transfer came out of nowhere.

“I’m feeling a little puzzled, a little baffled,” Phillips said to Arksley. “We weren’t given any kind of reason other than that.”

“I really didn’t see it coming, and that’s what hurts the worst. I still don’t know quite why it happened,” Phillips continued. “We’ve tried to communicate, but at some point it always came back to we couldn’t get any more answers other than it was a gut feeling.”

The loss of Taylor certainly hurts Ohio down the road. As a young player, he was already playing heavy minutes and a bout with mono towards the end of last season made his production dip a little bit.