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Conner scores 23 to lead UB over Delaware, 99-79

Junior guard Willie Conner scored a season-high 23 points to lead the University at Buffalo to a 99-79 victory over Delaware Tuesday night at Alumni Arena.

Conner is a 6-foot-5 Chicago native who came to UB from Odessa Community College, a two-year school in West Texas. He entered the game averaging 8.6 points a game.

UB forged a double-digit lead midway through the first half and held a 45-29 advantage at intermission. Delaware never threatened in the second half.

Senior guard Jarryn Skeete scored 20 for UB. The Bulls got 14 from freshman wing Nikola Rakicevic and 13 from freshman guard C.J. Massinburg.

Records: UB is 7-6. Delaware is 5-6.

Spark plug: Junior forward David Kadiri gave UB a lift off the bench in the first half. He had six points and six rebounds, five of them on the offensive end. He finished with nine points.

Early run: UB took control midway through the first half with a 12-0 run to take a 27-16 lead. Skeete scored in the lane, then Conner scored on a drive, was fouled and made the free throw. After Massinburg added a free throw, Skeete hit a 23-foot three-pointer from the wing. Then Conner scored on a spin move in the lane, got fouled and made the free throw.

Strong D: Massinburg, the freshman from Dallas, continued his strong first semester. He drew the defensive assignment much of the first half on Delaware’s leading scorer, Kory Holden, averaging 18.3 points per game. Holden was held to just one point on 0-for-5 shooting in the first half. Connor helped on Holden.

Bench minutes: With less entrenched starters than last season, UB is using its bench more this year. The Bulls’ bench has played 35.4 percent of the team’s minutes. That ranks 120th in the country, according to the analytics site Last season UB’s bench played 28 percent of available minutes.

Hamilton out: Junior wingman Blake Hamilton, UB’s No. 4 scorer and No. 2 rebounder, missed the game due to a concussion he suffered in a recent practice.

Thin Hens: Delaware lost one of its returning starters in the fourth game of the season when 6-7 sophomore Chivarsky Corbett suffered torn knee ligaments. The Blue Hens did not get a single point from its bench in its previous two games and was outscored in bench points, 64-2, over its previous three games.

Preseason poll: Delaware was just 10-20 last season but closed the season 9-7. The Blue Hens were picked to finish fifth in the 10-team Colonial Athletic Association. Hofstra is favored in the CAA.

Rare rivals: It was the first meeting between the Bulls and Blue Hens since 1950 and only the third meeting ever. Delaware is 5-12 all-time against MAC teams.

Seventy: UB had won all six games when it scored at least 70 points.

Strong schedule: UB has played one of the tougher non-conference schedules in the Mid-American Conference. The Bulls’ non-conference slate ranks 61st in the country. UB is the only MAC team to have played three teams in the top 50 in the Ratings Percentage Index.

New recruit: UB added a 6-5 shooting guard, Stefan Duric, last week. He’s a native of Serbia who played at Nelson High School in Burlington, Ont. He will enroll at UB for the second semester and has not joined the team yet. Duric was a member of the Canadian Junior National Team at the U-18 Americas Championship in 2014, helping Canada to a silver medal. Duric picked UB over Mississippi State. He was considering playing for a prep school in Ohio but opted against it, which is why he signed a letter of intent at midseason.

In the house: Attendance was 3,212 at Alumni Arena.

Up next: UB is off for a week until it plays host to Akron in its MAC opener at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Akron (9-2) has the best record of any team in the MAC and was picked to win the MAC East Division.

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