CLEVELAND – The University at Buffalo lived up to its No. 1 seeding and then some Friday night in the Mid-American Conference semifinals.
The Bulls played a complete game on both ends of the floor and defeated Kent State, 78-61, at Quicken Loans Arena.
The win put the Bulls in the MAC championship game for the third time in four years. UB will play the winner of the other semifinal between Toledo and Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).
UB improved to 25-8. Kent State, the defending MAC champion, saw its season end at 17-17.
Defense, depth and the shooting of Jeremy Harris were the difference for UB.
Harris, the junior wing, scored a game-high 22 points.
UB reserves outscored Kent State, 29-3. UB got strong performances off the bench from junior guard Dontay Caruthers and freshman guard Jayvon Graves.
UB also held Kent State to just 33 percent shooting. The Golden Flashes hit just 28 percent from three-point range UB was the No. 2-ranked defensive team in the MAC this season.
Kent State star guard Jaylin Walker was held to 12 points. Kent State's 7-foot center, Adonis De La Rosa, scored just six.
De La Rosa had 20 in each of the regular-season games against the Bulls. But UB rotated big men on him and kept him from getting the ball in the low post.
UB got 14 points and six rebounds from junior guard CJ Massinburg, 12 points from junior forward Nick Perkins and 11 points and five rebounds from junior guard Dontay Caruthers.
Even though Kent State finished .500 on the season, the Golden Flashes were a dangerous opponent for UB because of their athleticism. Kent State was very good this season when it shot well and when De La Rosa dominated inside. The Bulls kept both of those things from happening.
Eighty: UB scored 80 or more points for the 25th time this season in the quarterfinal win over Central Michigan. That's the most 80-point games of any team in the nation. Villanova has done it 24 times. Duke and South Dakota State have done it 23 times.
Assists: UB ranks No. 1 in the MAC in assists per game at 17.7. The Bulls had 24 assists against Central Michigan, the most in a MAC tournament game since 1998. The Bulls also had 51 rebounds, most in a MAC tournament game since 2005.
Hot finish: Kent's Walker, who played for Nate Oats at Detroit-area's Romulus High School, had a fast finish to the season. He scored in double-digits in 16 of the past 17 games. Walker was a third-team all-MAC pick.
Regular season: The teams split. Kent State won at home on Jan. 30, 82-79, rallying from an 18-point deficit late in the first half. UB won at home, 84-72, on Feb. 13.
Cardiac Kids: Kent State's previous five games had gone down to the last possession or overtime, and the Golden Flashes went 4-1 in those games. For the entire season, Kent is 9-1 in games decided by one score or in overtime.