Six Bulls scored in double figures in UB basketball's breezy 86-70 victory against Robert Morris Saturday. The Bulls shot at an efficient pace, 52 percent from the field and 38 from 3-point range, to clinch a third straight victory for the first time this season.
UB used a 17-6 run at the end of the first half to create a 16-point cushion. The Bulls controlled the game the rest of the way, not allowing their lead to shrink under the halftime deficit in the second frame.
Back in action: UB junior forward Ikenna Smart played in his first game of the year after undergoing back surgery in the offseason. He got into the team's rhythm immediately, shooting a perfect 5 for 5 for 10 points in the first half.
"For a guy that hasn't played in about a year now ... I thought he was great," UB coach Nate Oats said. "It was really good to get him back in the game. He's got experience."
He added one more bucket in the second, finishing 6 for 6 for a career-high 12 points in 21 minutes.
Keeping them in it: UB outshot Robert Morris handily in the first half, completing 62 percent of its field goals to the Colonials' 41. The Bulls controlled the paint and allowed zero second-chance points. Yet, before the half-ending run, Robert Morris kept within single digits. Turnovers kept RMU alive, as UB recorded 13 giveaways before the break.
"Our guys play aggressive, but they've got to do a better job," Oats said.
Rough from outside: Robert Morris went 2 for 18 from 3-point range, with the Colonials' two makes coming in the final minute and a half of the game.
Still out: It's not all good news on the injury front for the Bulls. Guard Dontay Caruthers, one of the best defenders in the MAC, will likely be out six to eight weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. He's sat out the past three games.
At long last: Oats' roster could get a shot in the arm for Tuesday's game against Syracuse. With Saturday's game in the books, point guard Wes Clark has completed his NCAA-mandated semester on the bench after transferring from Missouri. The only thing holding him back from being eligible to play are his grades being posted. Grades aren't due until after Christmas at UB, so the Bulls are working with his professors to get them posted early. Currently, only one of his five classes has been submitted.
Clark spent three seasons with the Tigers, averaging 7.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists. As a junior, he started all 25 games while with the team and averaged 9.8 points. If he's cleared, Oats expects he'll start.
"If anybody's come by and watched our practices, they know he's one of our best players," Oats said.
Familiar foes: The Bulls and Colonials have met four times in the last five seasons. With this year's victory, UB takes a 4-1 lead in the all-time series.
Player of the game: CJ Massinburg scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out four assists for his third straight double-double.
Jersey watch: The Bulls donned their grey uniforms for the second time this season. They're 1-1 while wearing the greys since they lost 96-80 to South Dakota State in the jersey's debut.
Up Next: The Bulls have a pair of marquee matchups this week, traveling to Syracuse on Tuesday and No. 9 Texas A&M on Thursday. The quick turnaround between games means a hectic travel week for UB. Oats and crew will catch a 6 a.m. flight Wednesday morning from Syracuse to Dallas.