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UB men’s basketball looking to rebound at Akron

Coming off their most crushing home loss of the season, the University at Buffalo men run smack into an old nemesis when they face Akron Tuesday night at Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio (7 p.m., Radio 1520).

If the Bulls are angry over the performance in last Friday’s 94-76 home loss to Ohio University at Alumni Arena, the Zips may be just as ornery, also coming off a loss.

Akron lost on the road Saturday at Northern Illinois, 80-79, on a pair of free throws by Aaric Armstead with 1.7 seconds to play. The loss prevented coach Keith Dambrot’s Zips (9-3 MAC) from creating some space between them and the three teams tied for second in the Mid-American Conference East Division – UB, Ohio U and Kent State all 7-5 in the conference.

Akron handed UB a 75-71 loss in the Bulls’ conference opener last month, giving the Zips a 29-25 lead in the all-time series. Since UB joined the MAC for the 1999-2000 season, the rivalry is even at 25-25. However, Akron has a 12-2 advantage in games played at Rhodes Arena, where UB has not won since 2009.

On Friday, Ohio blistered the UB perimeter defense, making 14 of 25 three-point shots. Also the Bobcats outrebounded the Bulls by 10. UB trailed right from the opening minute and hardly threatened.

UB can expect more long-range bombing from Akron. Freshman Josh Williams came off the bench and led the Zips with 22 points in the loss at NIU. He made 6 of 9 three-point tries and Akron was 15-34 overall from outside the arc.

Williams isn’t even the Zips’ most effective outside shooter. He is hitting 41.3 from three-point land. Three other Zips — Jake Kretzer (42.4), Reggie McAdams (42-4) and Noah Robotham (47.7) — are all shooting at a more accurate rate.

When Akron needs inside scoring, it turns to 6-foot-10, 295 pound junior Isaiah Johnson or 6-11 senior Pat Forsythe. Johnson leads the Zips with 320 points and a 12.8 average.

The Ohio loss was the coming out for UB freshman CJ Massinburg, who scored a career high 36 points, making 11 of 18 field goal attempts and 10 of 13 free throws. That was about it for UB, though. The rest of the Bulls went 14 for 40 from the field and accounted for 29 points.

Massinburg also had five of UB’s 33 rebounds, three of its 12 assists, four of its 10 steals and two of its four blocks all in only 29 minutes off the bench.

Friday’s defeat ended a five-game UB win streak including two games without suspended point guard Lamonte Bearden. Akron had won seven in a row before losing at Northern Illinois.

UB-Akron game is one of six on Tuesday night’s MAC schedule. Kent State will be home against Western Michigan while Ohio will be home against Eastern Michigan.

UB will be home against Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon in the first of two games against the Falcons left on the schedule.