Senior guard Jeremy Harris and senior forward Nick Perkins each recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds as Buffalo trounced Arizona State 91-74 on Friday in West Region first-round play of the NCAA Tournament at Tulsa, Okla.
Senior guard CJ Massinburg buried four 3-point baskets while scoring 18 points as the sixth-seeded Bulls (32-3) notched the second NCAA Tournament victory in school history. Sophomore guard Jayvon Graves added 13 points.
Buffalo will meet third-seeded Texas Tech in Sunday’s second round.
Senior power forward Zylan Cheatham had 22 points and eight rebounds to pace the 11th-seeded Sun Devils (23-11). Sophomore forward Romello White and freshman guard Luguentz Dort added 12 points apiece.
Buffalo’s first NCAA Tournament win occurred last year when the Bulls, as a 13 seed, routed Arizona 89-68 in the first round.
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley guided Buffalo to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015 before departing to the Pac-12 school. Current Bulls coach Nate Oats was brought on the staff as an assistant during Hurley’s stint.
“Not fun. I’d like to be cheering him on. I’d like to see us both move into the second round,” Oats said of facing Hurley, during a postgame television interview with TNT. .”.. He was really complimentary of how our kids played.”
The Sun Devils appeared tired after beating St. John’s on Wednesday night in the First Four at Dayton, Ohio before traveling to Tulsa. Arizona State was just 3 of 22 from 3-point range and shot 43.3 percent overall while being unable to keep pace with Buffalo’s up-tempo attack.
The Bulls shot 51.7 percent from the field, including 10 of 27 from 3-point range, and possessed a 42-26 rebounding advantage.
Arizona State trailed by 13 at halftime but came off the locker room strong in the second half by scoring six of the first eight points. A layup by White pulled the Sun Devils within 46-37 with 17:55 left.
But Buffalo responded with seven straight points, capped by a 3-pointer from Massinburg that pushed the lead to 16.
The Bulls continued pushing the pace, and the advantage reached 20 at 67-47 on two free throws by senior guard Dontay Caruthers with 12:15 left.
A short time later, Perkins scored five straight points as the lead reached 74-49 with 9:20 left, and Buffalo cruised to the finish.
Perkins had 12 points off the bench to help the Bulls hold a 44-31 lead at the break.
The Sun Devils led 14-10 before Buffalo exploded with eight straight points and 14 of 16. Perkins capped the surge with a layup to give the Bulls a 24-16 advantage with 9:41 remaining before the break.
Buffalo’s lead reached 39-25 on a 3-pointer by Harris with 4:23 left.
—Field Level Media