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Buf­falo vs. Ari­zona State

The Buffalo News - - PICTURE PAGE - By Rachel Lenzi NEWS SPORTS RE­PORTER After UB started the first few min­utes slug­gish, Nick Perkins had his say. (Story on Page B5) Hem­phill scores game­high 23 and leads UB’s run to vic­tory over Rut­gers. (Story on Page B12)

TULSA, Okla. — Nate Oats didn’t need to out­smart Bobby Hur­ley, the per­son who gave him his shot as a col­lege bas­ket­ball coach, then made him his top choice as his suc­ces­sor.

The Univer­sity at Buf­falo men’s bas­ket­ball coach needed to uti­lize a quick yet com­pre­hen­sive study of the op­po­nent. Then, the sixth-seeded Bulls steadily dis­sected the 11th-seeded Sun Dev­ils for a 91-74 vic­tory in the first round of the NCAA Tour­na­ment on Fri­day at the BOK Cen­ter.

Oats was even hes­i­tant to la­bel what he did as “out­smart­ing” Hur­ley.

Don­tay Caruthers, UB’s de­fen­sive spe­cial­ist, looked at it from a player’s point of view.

“I don’t think he re­ally out­smarted him,” Caruthers said. “Oats re­ally fo­cused on the stuff that we do. We al­ways say that if we take care of the stuff that we do, on our side of the ball, it’s hard for a team to beat us.

“Oats coached with (Hur­ley) for a very long time as his as­sis­tant. But I think it just comes down to the play­ers and how they go out and de­liver.”

By em­pha­siz­ing its own strengths, UB (32-3) fo­cused its guard-dom­i­nant of­fense in­side the perime­ter and shot 64 per­cent (21 for 33) in­side the arc.

The Bulls shut down Ari­zona State’s 3-point shoot­ing, which en­tered at 34.2 per­cent. And in the first 10 min­utes

of the game, the Bulls forced turnovers and built their of­fense off tran­si­tion, uti­liz­ing a 14-2 run to take a 24-16 lead, en route to a 25-2 run and a 44-31 lead at half­time.

“At this point, in March, you kind of are who you are,” Oats said.

Now, what UB is, is a pro­gram that has won first-round NCAA Tour­na­ment games in con­sec­u­tive years and faces third-seeded Texas Tech on Sun­day in the sec­ond round.

Lead­ing up to the game against his for­mer boss, Oats also gath­ered some out­side re­con­nais­sance on what a team in his sit­u­a­tion should do.

He said after the win against the Sun Dev­ils (23-11) that he reached out to coaches whose teams had been ei­ther No. 6 seeds or 11 seeds in the NCAA Tour­na­ment — coaches from Cincin­nati and Florida, in par­tic­u­lar — and asked them for some ad­vice.

Two of the four No. 11 seeds each year end up play­ing only days after hav­ing won First Four games.

“A cou­ple of them told me that they got in the game and just re­al­ized, that the team that had played in Day­ton (in a play-in game) just didn’t have en­ergy,” said Oats, whose team led by as many as 25 points mid­way through the sec­ond half. “So, we played fast to be­gin with, and we re­ally wanted to speed the tempo up on them, just to try to get into their lack of depth in the back court, and they had tired legs. It showed in their 3-point per­cent­age.”

The Bulls negated Ari­zona State’s al­ready-ham­pered perime­ter game as guard Remy Martin has been hob­bled by a groin in­jury he sus­tained in a Pac-12 semi­fi­nal.

The Sun Dev­ils went 3 for 22 on 3-point at­tempts, in­clud­ing 0 for 9 in the first half.

“We ex­ploited what they had,” said Nick Perkins, who led the Bulls with 21 points and 10 re­bounds, and reg­is­tered his fifth dou­ble-dou­ble this sea­son. “The matchups. They’re a re­ally big team, com­pared to us. We’re re­ally a small, guard-ori­ented team and play four guards, one big the whole time. All (Oats) re­ally did was just get the matchups right, and we were able to at­tack with our guards and cause trou­ble for them. That was the mis­match.”

Perkins was one of four play­ers to UB’s largest lead of the game, 74-49. ASU makes first three of half, missed first six. score in dou­ble fig­ures, along with Jeremy Har­ris (21 points), CJ Massin burg (18) and Jayvon Graves (13). Ha also had 10 re­bounds for his fourth dou­ble-dou­ble of the sea­son.

UB had 42 re­bounds to Ari­zona State’s 26, in­clud­ing a 13-6 ad­van­tag on the of­fen­sive end.

“We just had to man up and stres re­bound­ing,” Oats said. “Our guys di re­ally good job on the glass.”

Hur­ley, who coached UB in 20132014 and 2014-2015, and led the Bull to their first NCAA Tour­na­ment ber in 2015, wished Oats and the Bulls noth­ing but the best as they pre­pare face Texas Tech (27-6), which de­feate 14th-seeded North­ern Kentucky, 72After the game, the two coaches shook hands and headed into their re­spec­tive locker rooms. But Hur­ley snuffed out any fur­ther dis­cus­sion o the Oats ver­sus Hur­ley nar­ra­tive in open­ing state­ment on the podium.

“I think the world of Nate Oats as a coach, as a per­son, as for what he’s done for Buf­falo bas­ket­ball and how per­son­al­ity rubbed off and how hard his team com­petes and plays the ga Hur­ley said. “Oth­er­wise, I’ll an­swer ques­tions at this point about Buf­falo

USA TO­DAY Sports

CJ Mass­in­burg and his UB team­mates used a 21-5 spurt to take a lead they would never re­lin­quish. The Bulls will now play Texas Tech at 6:10 p.m. Sun­day (TNT). UB

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