No. 25 Buffalo pulls away for 62-53 win at Southern Illinois
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Montell McRae and Jeremy Harris each scored 11 points as No. 25 Buffalo pulled away in the second half for a 62-53 win over Southern Illinois on Monday night.
Davonta Jordan had nine points and five assists for the Bulls (3-0). Buffalo entered the Top 25 for the first time in school history Monday following its 99-94 overtime win at West Virginia on Friday night.
CJ Massinburg added seven points and a team-high six rebounds for Buffalo. Massinburg had 43 points and 14 rebounds in the victory at West Virginia.
Kavion Pippen led Southern Illinois (0-2) with 18 points. Aaron Cook scored 11 and Sean Lloyd had 10.
Southern Illinois played without starting forward Armon Fletcher, its top returning scorer from last season. Fletcher hurt his knee in the season-opening loss at Kentucky.
Buffalo won despite shooting 35.5 percent from the field, including 8 of 28 from 3-point range. The Bulls had a 41-33 advantage on the glass and scored 23 points off 19 Salukis turnovers.
The national ranking is the latest feat for a Buffalo program that has been transformed since hiring Bobby Hurley as coach in 2013.
Elevating fourth-year coach Nate Oats from an assistant role after Hurley left for Arizona State has helped Buffalo continue its success. The Bulls reached the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons after Hurley led them there for the first time in 2015.
Buffalo came into this season with high expectations after losing just one key player, point guard Wes Clark, from a team that won a school-record 27 games and upset fourth-seeded Arizona as a No. 13 seed in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Buffalo: The Bulls are 3-0 for the first time since 1986, when they played at the Division III level, and they’ve already bolstered their NCAA Tournament credentials with two impressive non-conference wins. More opportunities will come when Buffalo plays at No. 15 Syracuse on Dec. 15 and No. 24 Marquette on Dec. 21.
Southern Illinois: Picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference after a second-place finish last season, the Salukis have held their own against two teams that won NCAA Tournament games last March. They held a lead in the second half of Friday night’s 71-59 loss at then-No. 2 Kentucky.
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The teams will conclude their nonconference home-and-home series Dec. 15 in Buffalo.
Buffalo has an eight-day break before hosting Dartmouth on Nov. 21.
Southern Illinois will look for its first win Saturday against Arkansas Pine Bluff.
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