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Bulls rally after being demolished in the first half, still falls to Pitt 84-79

NCAA Basketball: Buffalo at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo’s six game road trip has finally came to the end and even though it’s another loss in the books, the Bulls are looking as strong as ever. UB falls to Pitt 84-79, but it’s how they got there that matters.

To say that Buffalo face planted at the start of the half may still be an understatement. Pitt came out ready to play and manhandled the Bulls in every way that they could. UB committed some careless turnovers and failed to keep track of some key defensive assignments. Pitt opened up with consistent 75% shooting while Buffalo was stone cold and in no time at all, the Panthers had opened a crushing 30-6 lead.

Everything changed with 13 minutes left in the half. After quick adjustments and fantastic coaching from Nate Oats, Buffalo finally got settled in. Sitting at 41-18 deficit, the Bulls executed the stingy defense that we saw for much of the first half in UB’s game with Creighton. CJ Massinburg, Nick Perkins, and Blake Hamilton would claw the Bulls back into a reasonable halftime deficit.

UB finished the half on a blistering 16-2 run. CJ Massinburg stole the show and drilled three shots from beyond the arc to help lead the effort. But, the best stat from this half spanned across those final 13 minutes: Buffalo stayed turnover free.

Coming out of the half, Buffalo had a much more reasonable 49-37 deficit to work with. UB took some time to get going again but they started to pick up where they left off. From the 13 minute mark again, the Bulls ignited for another run. Sparked by a CJ Massinburg layup, UB went on a 10-2 run to pull within 10 points of Pitt.

Pitt’s physical intensity on UB had disappeared. They were no longer exerting a press on UB and it left the post open for the taking. With almost 6 minutes remaining in the game, Buffalo had found their way to a 69-68 deficit.

Late in the game it looked like Pitt would be able to keep a 6-8 point lead over the Bulls until another late surge came from Nick Perkins. The 6-9 stretch forward eviscerated Pitt on four consecutive possessions to bring the Bulls to a 79-76 deficit. But, it just wasn’t enough as Buffalo ran out of time.

Nick Perkins had his best game as a Bull yet, finishing the night with 23 points and 8 rebounds. Blake Hamilton and CJ Massinburg had 18 and 14 points respectively.

With the loss, Buffalo closes out a brutal six game road trip. The Bulls finally return to Alumni this Saturday as they face off with a winless Coppin State team. Tip-off is at 2:00 PM and the game will air on ESPN3.