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Buffalo Bulls 71, Kent State 65: Shannon Evans leads UB to fourth straight win, surge to MAC bye

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

I said it last time, and I'll say it again now. It blows my mind and speaks to the inconsistency of Buffalo Men's Basketball this season that the Bulls got to 18 wins without a four-game winning streak. Tonight they managed it on their fifth attempt of the year with a 71-65 win over Kent State at the M.A.C. Center

Jarryn Skeete opened the game with a bang, a streak of four of his own. The junior sniper scored 12 straight points on 4-4 shooting from three to start the game. But it was Shannon Evans, with 21 points on 8-11 shooting from the floor and 6 assists, who led the Bulls. Devereaux Manley scored 19 for Kent thanks to a late surge, but the guard needed 17 shots to get there. Jimmy Hall also scored 18 after potting 11 of Kent's first 16.

After the Skeete-fueled blistering start, Buffalo really struggled through the rest of the first half, coughing up a ten point lead as forwards Justin Moss and Raheem Johnson quickly picked up two early fouls and Bobby Hurley was whistled for one of his own. Still, UB only fell down by one and was able to rebuild a slim 34-31 lead at the half thanks to strong defense from Will Regan and a few good minutes with Justin Moss, even with the star sitting on two fouls.

It didn't feel like a lopsided game, but UB continued to execute the offense well, shooting above 50% into very end and playing strong defense. Every time the Golden Flashes made a small run, UB was able to hit back, and built a ten point lead even as the game felt neck-and-neck that persisted into the waning minutes.

I wouldn't say fouls were a huge part of the game despite some egregious calls, but Buffalo was generally unable to generate offense down low as Moss and Johnson each picked up four fouls early. Fortunately, all three of UB's starting guards hit double-digits, and the dagger may have come with just under five to play when Will Regan hit a big three to put the Bulls up 15.

On the flip side, though Kent got the big game from Hall, the Golden Flashes guards couldn't contribute much offensively. Derek Jackson was a menace with 5 steals, but scored only 10 points, not enough to offset Manley's 4-18shooting, including 2-12 from three. UB uncharacteristically won despite not enjoying an advantage in foul shots and committing 13 turnovers.

UB's two remaining games are at home - a huge help in the tight race for a bye - and the first will be Tuesday night against Ohio. As of this very moment, UB is sitting fourth, winning the head-to-head tiebreaker with Kent at 10-6. Toledo and BG are sitting 2-3 just one game in front of us. I'll get to work on a tiebreaker post immediately.

Go Bulls!