Looking like a No. 6 seed no one wants to play, high-scoring Buffalo breezed into the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
Jeremy Harris and Nick Perkins each had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Buffalo was hardly bothered by 11th-seeded Arizona State in a 91-74 victory Friday in the West Region.
Coach Nate Oats has pushed the Buffalo program to new heights since he took over for Bobby Hurley, who now coaches the Sun Devils and got thoroughly schooled by his former assistant. The Bulls (32-3) have won 13 straight and will face No. 3 seed Texas Tech on Sunday.
It was a bounce-back performance for Perkins, who had just five points in 22 minutes in the MAC Tournament final, an 87-73 over Bowling Green. CJ Massinburg, Buffalo’s leading scorer, had 18 points.
Zylan Cheatham had 22 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 2:06 remaining for Arizona State (23-11), which defeated St. John’s 74-65 on Wednesday in the First Four. Romello White and Luguentz Dort each scored 12.
The Sun Devils led 14-10 early, but then Buffalo reeled off a 14-2 run over a three-minute span. The Bulls outscored Arizona State 10-5 over another three-minute stretch to push their advantage into double digits.
Arizona State trailed 44-31 at halftime and pulled within 46-37 early in the second half before Buffalo’s 7-0 run pushed its lead to 16 with 16:13 remaining. The Bulls’ advantage never fell below 14 the rest of the way.
Arizona State: Dort, the Sun Devils’ leading scorer, entered averaging 16.2 points per game but endured a difficult afternoon. Eight of his 12 points came down the stretch with the game out of reach. The Pac-12 freshman of the year shot 4 of 12 overall and 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
Buffalo: Hurley went 42-20 in two seasons at Buffalo, leading the Bulls to the NCAA Tournament in 2015. He then left for Arizona State. Oats was promoted to head coach and has since won three more MAC titles. The Bulls reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time last year, and now they hope to take the next step.
Buffalo faces Texas Tech, which beat 14th-seeded Northern Kentucky, in the second round on Sunday.