Ohio guard Teyvion Kirk rocking the rim during Ohio’s game against Buffao on Wednesday, March 5th, 2019. | Nick Mullens WOUB |

Ohio Men’s Basketball: Ohio Loses Nail-Biter to MAC-Leading Buffalo

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ATHENS, Ohio — The Ohio men’s basketball team (13-16, 5-12) scratched and clawed for all 40 minutes Tuesday, but ultimately came up short against the MAC-Leading Buffalo Bulls (27-3, 15-2) 82-79 in the Convo.

After falling to the Bulls in New York by 47 points on Feb. 19, the Bobcats showed far more resistance in Tuesday’s matchup. Despite allowing 11 3-pointers in the first half, the Bobcats stuck around and cut the deficit to as low as one with five and a half minutes to play.

Then the Bulls’ seniors stepped up.

With three and a half minutes to play and the Convocation Center crowd up on its feet, C.J. Massinburg hit a 3-pointer to put the Bulls up five. After Jason Carter converted two free throws, Jeremy Harris knocked down another trey to put the Bulls up six with under three minutes to play.

Despite the back-to-back daggers, the Bobcats showed no ounce of quit. Gavin Block and Teyvion Kirk both knocked down triples in the final minute, but the Bobcats came up just short.

Head Coach Saul Phillips admitted it was one of the tougher losses of the season.

“Certainly Massinburg and Harris’ threes sucked the life out of the building,” Phillips said. “Our guys stayed with it and battled hard though, and that’s what makes this so difficult. I really wanted to see our guys get a victory against the 19th ranked team in the nation.”

Buffalo finished the game 15-of-34 from beyond-the-arc, while Ohio converted just three of their 17 attempts from distance. Phillips acknowledged it was the difference in the loss.

“I think the only area we were deficient in was behind-the-arc,” Phillips said. “I thought we did a good job of limiting absorbing the game plan and limiting transition baskets.”

Harris scored 20 points to lead the way for Buffalo, as the Bulls secured the Mid-American Conference regular-season title and a top seed in the conference tournament with the victory. Massinburg and senior forward Nick Perkins each added 17 points, as the Bulls tied a school record (28) for most wins in a season.

Ohio was paced by senior forward Doug Taylor, who turned in a career performance with a career-high 20 points and six rebounds. Teyvion Kirk added 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and Jason Carter pitched in 15 points as well.

Despite the Bobcats’ improvement over the last month, which saw them take down Bowling Green, defeat Akron on the road, and nearly upend Buffalo, the Bobcats will finish the season last in the MAC East. They will finish their regular season in the Convo on Friday, March 8 against in-state rival Miami (OH).