January 5, 2019 / 4:32 AM / 14 days ago

No. 20 Buffalo blasts EMU in MAC opener

EditorsNote: 2nd update ... 4th graf, change 11 to 12 for Thompson’s rebounds.... 13th graf, adds “are’ before ‘2-43’

Montell McRae had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead 20th-ranked Buffalo past Eastern Michigan 74-58 in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams on Friday night in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Nick Perkins contributed 15 points and six rebounds, and CJ Massinburg chipped in 12 points and four assists for the Bulls. Jeremy Harris posted nine points and 12 rebounds.

At 13-1, Buffalo is off to its best start since the 1962-63 season. The Bulls have won four straight over the Eagles.

Eastern Michigan (6-8), the preseason favorite to win the MAC West Division, was led by Elijah Minnie’s 21 points and seven rebounds. Paul Jackson had 13 points and four assists, while James Thompson added 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Buffalo carried a 33-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Eastern Michigan led 15-11 midway through the first half after Minnie hit a 3-pointer. From there, Buffalo asserted itself.

The Bulls went on a 19-4 run to take an 11-point lead. McRae was the sparkplug, going on a personal 10-0 run. He had two dunks sandwiching a pair of 3-pointers.

Perkins scored the next six Buffalo points on four free throws and a put-back. Massinburg finished off the outburst with a 3-pointer off a Harris feed.

The Eagles scored the next four points before Massinburg knocked down another trey with six seconds left before the break.

Buffalo extended its lead to 17 during the first four minutes of the second half. Massinburg started the 11-4 spurt with a layup. Harris soon added two more interior buckets. Jayvon Graves finished it off with his first points of the game, a 3-pointer off a pass from Massinburg to make it 44-27.

An 8-0 Bulls run a few minutes later opened the lead to 23 points. That stretch included three points by Perkins, a dunk and an assist from Graves and a Dontay Caruthers trey.

Minnie’s 3-pointer with 3:22 remaining pulled the Eagles within 17. They couldn’t get any closer until the final minute.

Since the 1976-77 season, the Eagles are 2-43 in games against Top 25 opponents.

—Field Level Media

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