SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — CJ Massinburg scored 25 points, Jeremy Harris added 18, and No. 14 Buffalo rallied past Syracuse 71-59 on Tuesday night to remain unbeaten.
It was the first win over the Orange since January 1963 for Buffalo (11-0), one of only nine undefeated teams of the 353 that play in Division I. The reigning Mid-American Conference champion Bulls, eyeing a return to the NCAA Tournament, entered the AP Top 25 for the first time in program history in early November after an overtime victory at then-No. 13 West Virginia. It’s Buffalo’s best start since the 1930-31 season, when the Bulls finished 15-0.
Syracuse (7-4) suffered a crushing 68-62 home loss to Old Dominion on Saturday that knocked the Orange out of the national rankings for the second time this season. That and Syracuse’s two earlier setbacks were to unranked teams. The loss to ODU also snapped a five-game winning streak and left the Orange somewhat stunned, and they folded down the stretch against the Bulls.
Elijah Hughes had 16 points and Frank Howard scored 13 to lead Syracuse. Leading scorer Tyus Battle finished with 11.
Buffalo trailed the entire first half before rallying late.
A 3-pointer from the left wing by Davonta Jordan moved the Bulls within 38-37 early in the second half. Syracuse, averaging 29.7 percent from beyond the arc entering the game, got a pair of 3s from Hughes and another from Howard in a span of three minutes to keep the Bulls at bay.
Buffalo took its first lead midway through the half, using the long ball to key an 11-3 spurt. Montell McRae started it with a 3, and then Harris drilled a low-arcing 3 from the top of the key for a 50-48 edge, energizing hundreds of blue-clad Buffalo fans. The cheers kept coming when Massinburg hit another 3, this one from the left corner.
Battle, averaging 18.5 points, had only four in the first half and had taken only one shot in the second half before he hit a 3 to tie the game at 53-all with 8:07 to go.
Jordan’s putback gave the Bulls the lead again and his 3 with just under 4 minutes left gave them a 62-57 edge. Massinburg’s 3 with 2:03 left completed a 25-9 closing rush.
Buffalo: The Bulls had been tested two other times this season: the win at West Virginia and a tight victory over San Francisco in Northern Ireland just over two weeks ago. Beating the Orange on Jim Boeheim Court can only boost their confidence.
Syracuse: The Orange have been erratic all season. They were solid in a 72-62 victory three weeks ago at Ohio State, which was ranked 16th at the time, and rallied to beat Georgetown by a point 10 days ago. But they lost to UConn and Oregon at Madison Square Garden in mid-November. Before this season, Syracuse had suffered three nonconference losses just six times since the early 1990s, and it didn’t go to the NCAA Tournament in five of those years.
Buffalo travels to play No. 20 Marquette on Friday night.
Syracuse continues a seven-game homestand when it hosts Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon.