Extra points from the University at Buffalo’s 87-70 dismantling of Kent State Tuesday night:
X-UB improved to 9-6 in the Mid-American Conference and would have the No. 3 seed in the MAC Tournament if the season ended today. A 2-1 finish, which would give UB an 11-7 MAC record, surely will be good enough to secure for UB a top-four seed and a bye into the quarterfinals. A win at Ohio Saturday would give UB a great shot at the No. 2 seed. That’s gravy. The top four is all that really matters because it’s impossible to predict who will finish where and what the quarterfinal matchups will be.
x-UB went 12-6 last year. We’ll keep saying it: To think the Bulls could go 11-7 (or 12-6) after the offseason it endured is remarkable.
x-You have to love CJ Massinburg. Where would UB be without the freshman from Dallas, who was a late-addition to UB’s recruiting class last spring. See this Buffalo News story: http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/ub-mens-basketball/freshman-massinburg-proving-a-quick-study-for-ub-20151212
Massinburg works so hard he’s given himself a sore elbow from too much shooting. See today’s game story:
He had 21 points against Kent State and keyed the second-half spurt that turned the game into a blowout. He’s scoring 18 ppg over the last eight games and 23 ppg over the last four. He’s still only 18 years old. You’d think he’d be feeling pretty good about himself after the game. Yet asked about his scoring streak, he immediate response on how he views his role on the team was:
“It’s just effort. When I go out there I just try to play as hard as I can. I was brought here to play defense and get the deflections and the loose-ball plays, things like that.”
x-Top play No. 1: Massinburg hit a three-pointer from 23 feet at the top of the key to give UB a 50-43 lead, then blocked a shot by Kent guard Kellon Thomas so completely that he almost ripped it out of Thomas’ hands. Then he threw a long pass to sprinting Nick Perkins, who drove for a layup and turned a three-point play. UB up, 55-43. It was ruled a block, a rebound and an assist, and all three came within 2 seconds.
“I knew he was going to throw it to me so I was ready to break,” Perkins said. “I took two steps and just finished the ball.”
“Next year you’ll dunk it off that,” UB coach Nate Oats told Perkins in the post-game news conference. “He looked like a guard.”
x-Top play No. 2: UB red-shirt freshman Ikenna Smart made a Dominik Hasek-like dive to steal a loose ball in the defensive end as Kent’s offense was melting down. Smart had played poorly the past several games. He picked a great time to rise up (11 points, 7 rebounds).
“The one play that sticks out in my head is when Ikenna laid out,” Oats said.
x-Massinburg had a slump early in the MAC season, four or five poor games in a seven-game stretch. It included a zero-point outing vs. Akron.
“For me it was just confidence,” Massinburg said. “I don’t know why I just lost all my confidence. But when we played Akron and I didn’t score that game I went in a slump. Now I go out there.”
x-Perkins’ freshman season has been solid overall, with an average of 7.1 points and 4.5 rebounds. But has hit potholes, as well. He has had some shaky games in which his confidence was rattled. Any UB fan who watched him has to be excited about his future. The 6-8 Detroit product made some dazzling athletic plays. On the aforementioned fast-break bucket during the big run, he caught the ball, drove around a defender with two steps and finished strong. He had a low post score against Kent’s Jimmy Hall in which he made a power pivot to the inside and smoothly banked a 6-footer to give UB a 45-43 lead. A big-time move.
“Sam Perkins,” said Oats, referring to the former North Carolina and NBA star. “He doesn’t know who Sam Perkins is, but that was a little Sam Perkins-esque.”
“When I first came here I was decent in the low post but working with coach Marshall and all the coaches who work with the bigs, I’ve been getting better in there,” Perkins said, referring to UB aide Donyell Marshall. “I’m trying to be more versatile inside out.”
x-Kent really missed the two guards it has lost for the season due to foot injuries – Xavier Pollard and Jaylin Walker. Its backcourt got severely outplayed by Lamonte Bearden, Massinburg and Jarryn Skeete. Still, Kent’s defense was shoddy in the second half. Kent ranks 10th in the MAC in points allowed.
x-Massinburg on the Bulls’ three-game losing streak of a week ago (UB now has won two straight): “No it’s not out of our heads yet. One thing about that, the only good about that is it was a learning experience for us.
We know that just as fast as we can be on top, we can sink back down to the middle.”
x-Oats on the losing streak: “No we have not forgotten it because we got embarrassed in our own gym against Ohio, who we have Saturday. We made sure we talked about that right after the game. We’ve got some business to take care of down in Athens on Saturday.”