Syracuse outlasts stubborn Buffalo 81-74

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Syracuse won the game but don’t tell Buffalo the Orange are better.

”It’s frustrating,” said Bulls coach Nate Oats. ”They (Buffalo players) think they’re as good as them. They really do, and I tend to agree with them. Those three players on Syracuse (Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard) are really good. After that, we’ve got some really good players at the front end, too, but we’re deeper and our bench is better.”

”In my eyes I felt we were the better team,” forward Nick Perkins said. ”They have three good players, but I think 1 through 10 our players shadow theirs.”

Brissett scored 25 points and had eight rebounds, Howard scored 18, Paschal Chukwu had eight blocks and Syracuse outlasted stubborn Buffalo 81-74 on Tuesday night.

Battle added 13 points and Matthew Moyer chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds for the Orange (10-1).

”There’s not going to be any easy games,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. ”We’re not going to overpower anyone. We’ve made good plays in every close game which is most of them. We’re doing the little things you need to win.”

As far as Battle is concerned, a win is a win, no matter the assessment from the Buffalo side.

”They better do a better job the next game, I guess. They played hard tonight, but we ended up getting the win and that’s all that matters,” Battle said. ”We ended up with the win so I can’t say anything about what they’re saying.”

Perkins led the Bulls (7-4) with 18 points and Wes Clark added 15 in his first game for Buffalo. Clark, a transfer from Missouri, hadn’t played in nearly two years. The senior left the Tigers in February 2016 for what he said were personal reasons. The NCAA cleared Clark to play early Tuesday after his grades were posted and submitted. Leading scorer C.J. Massinburg was held to 14 points, six below his season average, on 2-of-13 shooting.

”It was great being back out there,” Clark said. ”I was a little antsy as you can see from the three turnovers in the first half, but it was great. I’m glad to be back out on the floor getting back to what I know.”

Buffalo fell behind 44-31 with 16:39 to go, but an 8-0 run, fueled by Jeremy Harris’ floater and 3-pointer, pulled the Bulls to 44-39. A floater by Battle ended the run, but Buffalo pulled to within four on a goaltending call on Syracuse center Paschal Chukwu on a shot by Perkins. Buffalo took a 53-52 lead on a short jumper by Clark with under nine minutes to go. The teams then went back and forth. A baseline jumper by Perkins tied the score at 62. A layup and foul shot by Brissett gave the Orange a 65-62 lead and a short jumper by Marek Dolezaj extended the Orange lead to 67-62. Two straight turnovers by Howard led to buckets by Massinburg and Clark and gave Buffalo a 68-67 lead with three minutes to go, but a 3-pointer by Howard, two foul shots by Battle and a Howard layup gave Syracuse a 74-68 lead. Buffalo got no closer than four the rest of the way.

”It’s frustrating because I felt we were right there,” Oats said. ”I feel like we definitely could have had it.”

Syracuse led 36-27 at the half.

SWEET 16

Oshae Brissett set a Carrier Dome record, going 16 for 16 from the foul line.

INJURY BUG

Matthew Moyer left the game and didn’t return after falling on his wrist early in the second half. Backup center Bourama Sidibe sat out with ankle and knee injuries and freshman forward Marek Dolezaj, who fell on his head against Georgetown, did the same against Buffalo. And, star guard Tyus Battle limped for much of the second half.

BIG PICTURE

Buffalo: It was a great effort by Buffalo, and the Bulls are now bolstered by Clark’s return.

Syracuse: The Orange were severely tested by Buffalo, perhaps a letdown after their comeback win over Georgetown. Syracuse has another tough test Friday against a good St. Bonaventure team.

UP NEXT

Buffalo has a quick turnaround as the Bulls travel to No. 8 Texas A&M on Thursday.

Syracuse continues its four-game home stand Friday against another upstate New York team, St. Bonaventure.